Want to buy (or sell) some ‘Made in Australia’ military kit?

Following recent announcements about an increased Australian arms export drive, there has come to light online this interesting resource: the Australian Military Sales Catalogue 2018, Edition 2, published by the Australian Military Sales Office. This glossy document now includes ‘a defence industry section, where various Australian defence industry-specific companies have been selected to showcase their products and services’. The pitch is towards cashed-up countries beyond our shores.

93883754-b95f-49f5-b6db-a6fc7f561c19Minister Pyne, arms manufacturers, and customers, Riyadh, December 2016 (Presstv/Twitter)

The purpose of the AMSC is to inform potential foreign government customers of Australian defence equipment and showcased products and services of Australian defence industry that are coming available for transfer under international government to government arrangements. AMSO seeks EOIs [Expressions of Interest] from interested foreign governments for consideration.

Fairfax cartoonist David Pope responded on 23 March with this effort. Since then, New Matilda columnist Kellie Tranter has noted (following a Freedom of Information claim) that in the calendar years 2016 and 2017 there were 16 military licences granted for the export of military equipment from Australia to Saudi Arabia (rather than four as had been previously thought). Tranter examines the (redacted) documents in detail and concludes thus:

Irrespective of ethics, morality, human rights or international law the Government seems to be hell bent on ramping up arms exports to countries like Saudi Arabia, which seeks dominance of Sunni Islam in other countries in its region; which has provided “clandestine financial and logistic support to ISIL”; which has smuggled cash, weapons and ammunition to highly radicalised groups – including for example the Army of Islam in Syria “which has paraded caged women as human shields against airstrikes”; which is engaged in a brutal regional conflict knowingly inflicting immeasurable harm on innocent civilians, and which is known to have procured weapons and then transferred them to third parties.

1500112067454Minister Pyne checks out some kit (Fairfax/Corporal Max Bree)

Arms manufacturing and sales have been a subject of interest to Honest History for some time. There is even a graph there which suggests that expenditure on arms can lead to conflict – rather than the other way round.

We haven’t (yet) tried to map the connections between expenditure on arms and the outcome of contests in the electorates where the kit is built. Presumably, these calculations are regularly made within government.

We do know something, though, of the links between arms manufacturers and the Australian War Memorial; we have referred previously to ‘the military-industrial-commemorative complex’. Given the lack of interest (for the most part) in the mainstream media in exploring the implications of Australia’s arms sales push, perhaps we should say ‘the military-industrial-commemorative-media complex’.

David Stephens

26 March 2018

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