It's time for Australia to stop arms promotion

Medical Association for Prevention of War

Every day we see images of war's terrible impact on innocent people. We often feel powerless to make a difference, but there are things we can do. Identifying who profits from war, and how Australia is aiding these war profiteers, are important first steps.

Do you realise how much financial support and encouragement our Government gives to huge multinational weapons corporations?

  • The Government has committed $3.8 billion of taxpayer funds to help Australian arms makers ‒ including the subsidiaries of global weapons makers – export more weapons.1
  • The Australian War Memorial seeks funding from weapons companies and actively promotes their brand names, even inside the Memorial itself.
  • The weapons industry made huge profits from the carnage of World War 1 yet the world's largest weapons-maker, Lockheed Martin, is this year funding Australian War Memorial activity around commemorations of the Centenary of the end of WW1.2
  • The Avalon arms fair, held biennially in Victoria alongside the air show, is organised by a group of corporations that have charitable status and thus receive generous tax concessions. The Federal and Victorian State governments appear as sponsors on the website, in arrangements which lack transparency.
  • Australia sells weapons to Saudi Arabia, a country which has helped create a humanitarian catastrophe in Yemen. Recently the Australian Defence Department admitted it could not rule out the possibility that Australian military equipment is being used by Saudi Arabia in Yemen.
  • Australian universities are accepting weapons' company funding which will influence students to opt for careers in this sector instead of areas the world needs more, such as renewable energy.

The Medical Association for Prevention of War (MAPW) believes weapons promotion tends to normalise warfare and desensitises us to its impacts. To counter the increasing influence of weapons manufacturers in our national life MAPW has launched the Australia: Stop Arms Promotion project and we need your help.

This is what we're doing:

  • Media on the Australian War Memorial: We've already received national media coverage for our call on the War Memorial to stop accepting weapons' company funding.3,4 We received further media coverage on the need for the peace message to be prominent on Armistice Day5,6, and we reiterated our call for Lockheed Martin's money to be kept away from the commemoration of our war dead.
  • Petition: We have started a petition to the Australian War Memorial calling on its Director and Council to cease accepting weapons company money.
  • Public engagement: Using social media and a postcard campaign, we will engage people around the country to pressure the Australian War Memorial to stop commercialising our war dead.
  • Melbourne University: We've met with senior staff at Melbourne University to protest their financial arrangement with Lockheed Martin. We have also begun a poster campaign on campus and circulated a statement for students, staff and alumni to sign.
  • Digging for information: Our questioning, including via Freedom of Information requests, has unearthed major subsidies for the Avalon air show/arms fair. We'll continue this investigation and publicly question the organisers' charity status. We've also used FOI to expose government secrecy about its arms sales to Saudi Arabia.

None of this work would be possible without the financial support of our members and supporters. Thank you. Yet funds are running low, just as we are gaining traction! If you can donate, please visit https://actionnetwork.org/fundraising/donate-to-australia-stop-arms-promotion-project

References:

  1. www.abc.net.au/radionational/programs/drive/turnbull-announces-plan-to-boost-australian-arms-trade/9371634
  2. www.awm.gov.au/media/press-releases/lockheed-martin-Invictus
  3. www.canberratimes.com.au/politics/federal/war-memorial-should-ditch-weapons-manufacturers-anti-war-organisation-20180517-p4zfvb.html
  4. www.abc.net.au/news/2018-05-22/the-drum-tuesday-may-22/9788900
  5. www.canberratimes.com.au/canberra-news/remembrance-day-peace-vigil-on-anzac-parade-banned-by-nca-20181003-p507l8.html
  6. https://the-riotact.com/no-peace-on-remembrance-day-as-nca-refuses-bid-for-anzac-parade-vigil/267515

Published in Chain Reaction #134, December 2018. National magazine of Friends of the Earth Australia. www.foe.org.au/chain_reaction


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