Australian Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has put forth a controversial plan to boost the military industry and make the country one of the world’s top arms exporters.
The new “Defence Export Strategy” details a 10-year plan to guide Australia to become one of the top 10 global arms exporters.
The plan builds upon the country’s defense industry, bringing together all of the levers available to provide end-to-end support for military exports.
The Middle East, the Indo-Pacific region, Europe, the United States, the United Kingdom, Canada and New Zealand have been targeted in the plan as areas where potential customers exist.
“It is an ambitious, positive plan to boost Australian industry, increase investment, and create more jobs for Australian businesses,” Turnbull said in support of the controversial plan.
“A strong, exporting defense industry in Australia will provide greater certainty of investment, support high-end manufacturing jobs and support the capability of the Australian defense force,” he added.
The plan has been anticipated since mid-2017 when Defense Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said he wanted to start selling far more Australian-made weapons overseas.
However, the plan has faced strong opposition from peace advocates and human rights defenders.
Chief Advocate of World Vision Australia,Tim Costello, on Monday, condemned the controversial plan, saying “Whatever money we make from this dirty business will be blood money.”
Costello had stated last year that “the government says this is an export and investment opportunity, but we would be exporting death and profiting from bloodshed.”
“There is only one purpose in making a weapon and that is to kill someone with it. Do we really want that to be what people think of when they see the brand ‘made in Australia’?”
In March 2017, Australian firms signed military contracts to provide weapons to Saudi Arabia, amid the regime’s bloody military campaign against Yemen.
An international rights group calls on the Australian government to disclose all of its arms deals with Saudi Arabia amid the worsening humanitarian situation in Yemen.
Officials in Canberra have refused to release details of the approved military sales due to what they call commercial-in-confidence rules, prompting criticism from rights activists at home and abroad.
Last November, Amnesty International urged Australia to disclose all of its military deals with Saudi Arabia, the world’s second arms importers, saying Canberra is “legally obliged” to certify that its arms sold to the Saudis are not being used in situations, which violate human rights in Yemen.