Stephens, David: Will the Australian War Memorial renew its ‘naming rights for donations’ deal with arms manufacturer BAE Systems?

David Stephens*

Update 5 June 2020: Story by Christopher Knaus in Guardian Australia.

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‘Will the Australian War Memorial renew its “naming rights for donations” deal with arms manufacturer BAE Systems?’, Honest History, 4 June 2020 updated

Almost seven years ago, on 13 June 2013, BAE Systems and the Australian War Memorial announced they had renewed their ‘partnership [to] continue to support the provision of high-tech equipment and resourcing of the theatre at the Memorial’. (The AWM press release of 13 June 2013; pdf copy of the press release). The original deal was made in 2008 (AWM Annual Report 2008-09, p. 48). The Memorial theatre has been called the ‘BAE Systems Theatre’ ever since.

The BAE-AWM deal is due to expire. Will it be renewed?

downloadBAE Systems is the world’s sixth largest arms manufacturer by value of sales. It makes combat aircraft, munitions and land warfare systems. Like most of the other big players in the arms game it donates to the War Memorial, although its donations – like all arms manufacturer donations to the Memorial – are small change compared with sales figures and profits. The value of BAE’s arms sales in calendar 2018 was $US21.2 billion, while its donations to the Memorial in the three years 2015-16 to 2017-18 amounted to just $A150 000.

BAE is a player in an industry sector which has been designated by Transparency International as one of the most corrupt in the world. Following a trial for corrupt practices in Africa, BAE itself was fined $US400 million by a US court in 2010. The judge in that case said that BAE’s conduct involved ‘deception, duplicity and knowing violations of law, I think it’s fair to say, on an enormous scale’.

Among other lucrative deals pulled off by BAE Systems recently is the sale over five years of $US18.7 billion worth of weapons and services to Saudi Arabia for use in that country’s war on Yemen. The war in Yemen has killed over 100 000 Yemenis, including 16 000 civilians. According to Andrew Smith of the Campaign Against the Arms Trade, ‘The last five years have seen a brutal humanitarian crisis for the people of Yemen, but for BAE it’s been business as usual’.

Perhaps the BAE-AWM agreement has already been inked for a new term. That would be a great pity.

download (1)War in Yemen (MintPressNews)

* David Stephens is editor of the Honest History website and co-editor of The Honest History Book (2017).

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One comment on “Stephens, David: Will the Australian War Memorial renew its ‘naming rights for donations’ deal with arms manufacturer BAE Systems?
  1. Leighton View says:

    Agree, it would be very sad for this “cooperation” to continue. Initially, I seem to recall, such deals were made because the AWM was short of funds. But that doesn’t seem to be the case anymore, or, if it is, why not cancel the expansion plans, use some of that $500 million to help out their cash flow problems? Then use the rest to actually support living and damaged veterans.

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