Michelle Fahy has for years been an assiduous researcher and thoughtful writer on the arms industry and related topics. She has just made two notable contributions. The first was her speech to last month’s conference of the International Peaceful Australia Network (IPAN). She first showed the strong correlation between the world’s top 15 arms manufacturing companies and Australia’s top 15 defence contractors. Australia is clearly an attractive market for gunrunners. And 11 of these top 15 Australian defence contractors are foreign-owned.
It gets better: ‘Australia is currently the world’s 4th largest arms importer, and we are one of America’s biggest clients’. You can see why the Americans are so fond of us. AUKUS is just the icing on the cake for arms makers who are used to doing well out of Australia and our Defence Department contract ‘managers’.
The rest of the speech is about the Thales-Hawkei-Bushmaster saga. It’s difficult to summarise but it’s only four pages. Definitely worth the read though it is not new to those few of us who have ventured into these thickets.
The former Director and then Chair of the Australian War Memorial, Brendan Nelson, has a cameo role. Thales got the Hawkei contract just five months after Nelson began unpaid shilling for Thales, while continuing in his day job as Director of the War Memorial, even though Thales was clearly doubtful value for money. We are not necessarily suggesting there is a connection.
So – there you have it [Fahy concludes] – it’s a big story and a great example of the undue influence of the arms industry in Australia, bending both political parties to its will, against the public interest, which fits in with the World Bank’s definition of state capture.
Then, there’s Dr Nelson’s successor at the Memorial, Kim Beazley. Michelle Fahy published yesterday this long article on Declassified Australia about the activities of Mr Beazley, AC, former Defence Minister, Leader of the Opposition, Ambassador to the United States, Governor of Western Australia, and now Chair of the Council of the Australian War Memorial, especially with Luerssen Australia, the WA-based subsidiary of German naval shipbuilder Lürssen. Luerrsen Australia has a contract to supply twelve Offshore Patrol Vessels to the navy. The $3.7 billion contract was one of 28 projects listed as a concern in October by new defence minister Richard Marles, and was said to be running a year behind schedule. Mr Beazley joined the Luerssen Australia board in August this year.
Update 16 December 2022: This article republished on Pearls and Irritations.
Update 15 January 2023: Michelle Fahy interview on 3RRR.
Michelle Fahy’s work can be found here, here and on the Honest History website. Use our Search engine.
12 December 2022 updated
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