Senate debates

Wednesday, 28 February 2024

Matters of Urgency


5:01 pm

Photo of Jordon Steele-JohnJordon Steele-John (WA, Australian Greens) Share this | Hansard source

For years, the Australian government has sought to become one of the world's top arms dealers. In fact, it was a policy taken to an election by the Liberal Party, and endorsed by the Labor Party, that Australia should become one of the top 10 arms dealers in the world—one of the top 10 merchants of death and purveyors of destruction; members of a global fraternity capitalising on the moral failure of war.

The last few weeks and months have made very clear what the consequences are of being an arms exporter. What does the result of this industry actually look like? It looks like dead children. It looks like razed cities. It looks like suffering of an unimaginable extent—unimaginable to so many in this place, and yet the daily life, the daily reality, of the people of Gaza.

Australia sells what it calls 'defence export permits' to countries all around the world. Now, behind this seemingly innocuous term, this is the truth: the system that has been created to enable Australian corporations to sell arms overseas has been specifically designed to obscure from the Australian people what weapons are being sold, how many weapons are being sold and what those weapons are being used for. The Albanese government has sold defence export permits to the Israeli defence force—equipment that has almost certainly been used to kill innocent civilians in the Gaza Strip and potentially in the West Bank and Lebanon as well. Australia has sold defence export permits to Saudi Arabia and to the United Arab Emirates, two countries that are infamous for their war crimes during the Yemeni civil war, of which, the foreign minister has made clear, her department is aware. Other countries we have sold defence export permits to include Indonesia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of the Congo, all of whom are known to have committed serious human rights violations and violated international law, and, yes, committed war crimes. The government has talked a lot about the importance of the international rules based order, but what has become clear is that they do not care how much harm is caused to people, wherever they are in the world, as long as they can make money from selling guns—from selling weapons.

Let me tackle head-on the nonsense that is being trotted out here to gaslight the Australian public, to lead the Australian public to believe that our government is innocent of selling weapons to the State of Israel. The incredibly slippery word use by this government, in making false definitions between a bullet and the chip that guides a missile, brings all who let it pass by their tongue into disrepute. The Australian public know exactly what is meant when an Australian corporation sells armour for an armoured vehicle or when a Tasmanian corporation builds the engine for a drone. You think the public fools. They are not, and at the election they will hold you accountable for every one of the times you have tried to imply that they are fools.


No comments