Deputy Speaker, the Government has made no secret of their plan to make military technology one of Australia’s top exports. And this plan is working, with some $5bn worth of sales approved last financial year alone.
The problem is the Government has approved military sales to countries like Saudi Arabia, Turkey, Eritrea and Sudan; countries with appalling human rights records, with some directly involved in civil wars and other conflicts, and others responsible for abducting children to become child soldiers, mass executions of prisoners, torture and other horrific war crimes. Not that the Australian Government would necessarily know, because it does very little to track our arms exports once they’ve left the country
Moreover there’s the media report just today that Australia’s Future Fund has almost $160m invested in 14 companies linked to the Myanmar junta, including a Chinese arms manufacturer that’s sold aircraft and missiles to the Myanmar military, and which is designated by the US as a banned investment entity.
Deputy Speaker the situation I describe is obviously unethical and out of step with community expectations. No way should we be selling military kit and know-how to the world’s most odious governments. Nor should we be investing in their own ‘grotesque’ arms industries.
Frankly Deputy Speaker, the Government needs to get out of this trade, and get out of it now.