Updated: Jul 28
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Updated: Jul 28
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19 May 2021 | Michael Moore | Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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Under the Freedom of Information act it has been revealed that the Australian Government is approving the sale of military weapons and other war products to with Australia approved 103 military export permits to UAE and Saudi to kill women and children and men in the Yemen. This despite protests from the UN which are simply ignored by the Australian Government.
Michelle Fahy investigated Australia’s escalating export trade in weapons with the Saudi dictatorship, in defiance of its international commitments and discovered behind the secrecy that The Defence Department approved local weapons-making companies to export to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates. The two countries waging war against the Yemen even as the UN was pleading for the rest of the world to stop supplying weapons to these countries.
In” the nearly six years from 1 July 2015 to 31 March 2021, the Defence Department approved 103 permits for munitions exports to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
In the same period, the Department denied just three permit applications to Saudi Arabia and none for the UAE.”
These figures were released last week after a Freedom of Information request.
“The permits cover permanent military exports of munitions. The munitions list includes military specific goods and technology such as weaponry, ammunition, missiles, armoured vehicles, military vessels, as well as military-specific items such as helmets and body armour.”
Significantly the entire arena is shrouded in secrecy with the excuse, ‘commercial in confidence,’ used as a cover to export death to the citizen of the Yemen.
“which is in stark contrast to the increased transparency envisaged by the Arms Trade Treaty (ATT). Australia worked hard at the UN to bring the ATT into being and ratified the treaty in 2014.”
One Canberra based company complicit in this death dealing is Canberra-based weapons manufacturer Electro Optic Systems (known as EOS) who, with the blessing of the Government in Canberra, supplies remote weapons systems to be used on the civilians of Yemen.
“supplying its remote weapons systems to Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
EOS had announced a significant export contract of $410 million the day after the Turnbull government launched its new exports policy in January 2018. EOS acknowledged the government for its help in landing the deal. At the time, EOS kept secret who the deal was with, claiming that disclosing that information would not be in the national interest. Ironically, the UAE later outed itself as an EOS customer with no apparent concern it was damaging Australia’s national interest.”
They are still doing so. You apparently cannot argue that 410 million dollars is less important than children’s lives according to the Australian Government.
I am sure that most Australians would ask this be stopped. The UN has been pleading to all nations not to supply weapons to the countries waging war on the Yemen.
Australia seems to have a different policy.
According to the UN the war has created the world's worst humanitarian crisis and caused an estimated 233,000 deaths, including 131,000 from indirect causes such as lack of food, health services and infrastructure.
Seems money is more important to the Australian Government.
“Since 2016, the UN has been pleading for all nations to stop supplying weaponry to the countries involved in the Yemen war, which is currently the world’s greatest humanitarian crisis. That same year the UN said, “Since the beginning of this conflict in Yemen, weddings, marketplaces, hospitals, schools – and now mourners at a funeral – have been hit, resulting in massive civilian casualties and zero accountability for those responsible.”
Saudi Arabia and the UAE have led the coalition of Arab countries fighting the Houthis in Yemen. The UN and human rights groups have documented widespread atrocities against civilians as well as the targeting of civilian infrastructure.
No only are the Australian Government responsible for this they earmarked the Middle East as a “priority market” in its 2018 export strategy, publicly pursuing sales with Saudi Arabia and the UAE.
It is known that the Defence Department publishes defined aggregate figures which show that the total value of defence export approvals has increased from about $1.5 billion to about $5 billion since the government’s export push began.
Christopher Pyne was defence industry minister when the exports strategy was launched. He said that Australia wanted to support military exports to countries “like ourself who support the rules-based international order”.
As for Australia’s “strict” export controls, said by Defence to take full account of Australia’s international obligations, such controls have not stopped the approval of a single arms export permit to the UAE for the duration of the Yemen war, and have only denied three permits to Saudi Arabia. There have been 80 permits approved for the UAE and 23 for Saudi Arabia.
“Defence’s written response: It is important to note that military equipment might be used in conflicts so, to meet Australia’s international obligations, Defence assesses the risks as to whether it is likely to be used unlawfully in that conflict.”
Therefore, killing civilians is fully approved as an international obligation in the Australian Government eyes.
Some facts and figures. In 2020, the latest UN update said ongoing serious human right violations by parties to the conflict underlined a “complete lack of respect for international law and human life”. For civilians in Yemen, “there is simply no safe place to escape the ravages of the war”.
Permanent export permits issued by Defence Export Control
Those figures speak for themselves.
Victorian National Party Senator Bridget McKenzie deserves enormous praise and community gratitude for her fearless and powerful defence of stood-down Australia Post CEO Christine Holgate and the long suffering small business licensed post offices (LPOs) fighting to get her reinstated.
In multiple Senate hearings Senator McKenzie has worked alongside another champion of the LPOs, Senator Pauline Hanson, to forcefully interrogate the Australia Post board and government witnesses. In doing so, Senator McKenzie has often crossed swords with her own government colleagues in the Liberal Party, including Senator Jane Hume and Senator Sarah Henderson, who have shamelessly tried to protect the Board and government witnesses from her questions (and in the case of Senator Henderson also viciously attacked the LPOs).
All Australians who support the fight to reinstate Christine Holgate and save Australia Post should contact Senator McKenzie to thank her for her efforts.
Shockingly, however, she is a lone warrior in her National Party; by the actions of the rest of her colleagues, or rather inaction, the National Party has betrayed the LPOs and the regional communities they serve.
The one absolute truth that should be driving every National Party MP on this issue is this:
Christine Holgate singlehandedly saved banking services for hundreds of communities in their electorates!
Without her, the 1,550 regional communities across Australia which don’t have bank branches also would not be able to bank at the community post office, because the Bank@Post service would have been scrapped in October 2018. Those communities would be withering and dying as residents would be forced to travel long distances to larger centres to do their banking, taking their everyday commerce with them.
To save the communities that National Party MPs represent, Christine Holgate alone opposed an Australia Post board decision in 2018 to scrap banking services because they were losing Australia Post $48 million per year, losses mostly coming out of the pockets of LPOs. She assembled a team of executives who worked very hard for months to convince the big banks to pay a $20 million community representation fee. With the last-minute assistance of
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg to get the banks to the table, she achieved the deal literally on the deadline set by the board for saving the service—her emotion at the announcement of the banking deal reflects how close Australia had come to losing postal banking services. To recognise the very hard work of her team, she awarded them Cartier watches. The beneficiaries of this deal are the regional communities served by LPOs, but what are National Party MPs, with the honourable exception of Bridget McKenzie, doing for Christine Holgate and the LPOs in return?
Worse than nothing. They are betraying their communities and the LPOs, by rolling over to Prime Minister Scott Morrison’s vicious agenda to drive her out. A disgusting example of this betrayal is this 26 April email by the Member for Lyne David Gillespie to a constituent. Despite all the revelations that have emerged from the inquiry, Gillespie doesn’t care. He stuck fast to
Scott Morrison’s lies:
Gillespie: Thank you for your email regarding Christine Holgate. The concern has never been with Christine Holgate. The issue was the inappropriate use of taxpayer’s money for luxury items.
Response: Lie! Christine Holgate opposed the privatisation agenda; the PM’s attack had nothing to do with Cartier watches.
Gillespie: Ms Holgate was stood aside for a period while an investigation was under way, and then made a decision to resign from her role, with immediate effect—she was not fired.
Response: False! She was bullied into offering her resignation, which is a constructive dismissal that is unlawful under Australian law.
Gillespie: The investigation report found that the purchase of watches was not a proper use of public money, as required under the PGPA [Public Governance, Performance and Accountability] Act, and was not supported by internal Australia Post policies.
Response: The investigation cleared Christine Holgate of any actual wrongdoing; the report could only contrive a token finding against her by saying nothing in Australia Post’s rules authorised her to specifically buy watches—a ludicrous demand for specificity that no corporate or government rules would meet.
Gillespie: I and many of my colleagues fully support our local LPO’s and I have written to Minister for Communications, Urban Infrastructure, Cities and the Arts, The Hon Paul Fletcher MP stating this. Thank you for taking the time to bringing your concerns to my attention.
Response: With “supporters” like David Gillespie, who needs enemies?
David Gillespie’s repetition of Scott Morrison’s lies is an especially shameful betrayal of the LPOs, given LPO Group Executive Director Angela Cramp assisted him in 2018 when he was at risk of losing his seat under Section 44 of the Constitution which prohibits MPs from profiting from the Crown, because he owned a property rented by a licensed post office. Angela Cramp spoke out on Gillespie’s behalf, explaining to the media and authorities that while LPOs provide postal services, they are in fact private small businesses. He kept his job—why hasn’t he lifted a finger to help the woman who saved LPOs and regional banking services keep hers?
It’s time Australians demanded the National Party stand up and fix the Australia Post debacle. Political point-scoring or ideological agendas like privatisation should never be allowed to destroy a CEO like Christine Holgate who protected the essential postal and banking services that regional communities rely on, and the hard-working small business families who run the licensed post offices that provide those services. If that ever does happen, as in this case, it is up to honest politicians to put it right, and not just accept that “that’s politics“. Call all National Party MPs and Senators to tell them their spineless inaction is unacceptable. The Liberals cannot govern without them, so they should form a delegation to Scott Morrison to demand he fix the mess he created: order his ministers to replace the Liberal-stacked board and reinstate Christine Holgate as CEO.
What you can do
Call all National Party MPs and Senators and demand they fight for Christine Holgate and the
Senator Matt Canavan (07) 4927 2003
Darren Chester MP (03) 5144 6744
Pat Conaghan MP (02) 6652 6233
Mark Coulton MP (02) 6882 0999
Senator Perin Davey (02) 9159 9310
Damian Drum MP (03) 5821 5371
Andrew Gee MP (02) 6361 7138
Dr David Gillespie MP (02) 6586 4462
Kevin Hogan MP (02) 6621 4044
Barnaby Joyce MP (02) 6761 3080
Michael McCormack MP (02) 6921 4600
Senator Susan McDonald (07) 4771 3066
Senator Bridget McKenzie (02) 6024 2560
Dr Anne Webster MP (03) 5021 5987
Call Liberal Senator Sarah Henderson to express your outrage at the way, on behalf of Scott Morrison, she bullied and belittled the LPO Group to undermine its support for Christine Holgate.
Ph: (03) 5221 5900 Email: email@example.com