Tuesday, 9 May 2017
Military Unmanned Aerial Vehicles
That the Senate—
(a) is deeply concerned that the Australian Defence Force (ADF) is reportedly planning to purchase weaponised drones;
(b) notes that:
(i) the Obama Administration is estimated to have killed at least 7 000 people with these lethal unpiloted aircraft during its term of government,
(ii) the Bureau of Investigative Journalists estimates that up to 1 168 civilians have been killed in United States (US) drone strikes in Yemen, Pakistan and Somalia alone,
(iii) due to the lack of transparency surrounding the US’s lethal drone program, and the practice of categorising unidentified people killed in strikes as enemies even if they were not the intended target, it is impossible to tally the exact number of civilian deaths, and
(iv) weaponised drone strikes exacerbate the very threat that the ADF is seeking to confront; and
(c) calls on the Australian Government not to purchase weaponised drones, and instead direct funding to strengthening Australia’s diplomatic network and increasing Australia’s aid budget from its current record low.
The 2016 Defence White Paper detailed the government's plans to introduce armed medium-altitude unmanned aircraft in the early 2020s. These aircraft will provide enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance support to a range of missions, including counterterrorism missions overseas, while augmenting our surveillance capability for search and rescue, humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. It is important to note that all unmanned aerial systems currently operated and being considered by Australia are remotely piloted. As such, there is always a human within the system. All unmanned aerial systems are required to meet stringent airworthiness requirements and follow strict operational guidelines to ensure the protection of other aviators and civilians on the ground. The coalition government has overseen the largest single expansion of our overseas diplomatic presence in 40 years. At 2016-17, Australia will deliver around $3.8 billion in development assistance, making Australia the 13th largest donor in the OECD.