Will Australian courts try US Marines who commit crimes on Australian soil?
In November 2011, while on Australian soil, United States (‘US’) President Barack Obama announced that the US would expand its military presence in Darwin. This announcement swiftly translated into a joint press release as a ‘force posture initiative’ designed to ‘enhance defence cooperation between Australia and the United States’. It meant, in practice, the initial rotation of 250 US Marine Corps (‘USMC’) personnel through the Northern Territory (‘NT’) in 2012 and 2013; in March 2014 there were 1000 Marines, with up to 2500 personnel expected by 2016–7. Otherwise scarcely debated in Australia, the military expansion led former Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser to argue that Australia should withdraw from the Australia, New Zealand, United States (‘ANZUS’) Security Treaty and its US military alliance. In a joint press conference in Darwin, however, the announcement was sprinkled with jokes from the US Ambassador and the NT Chief Minister about ‘hooking up to a barramundi’ and the merits of American versus Australian beer.1