NO AIRPORTS ARMS ADS: NEW CAMPAIGN SAYS CANBERRA’S MESSAGE SHOULD BE ‘OPEN ARMS, NOT LETHAL ARMS’

NO AIRPORTS ARMS ADS: NEW CAMPAIGN SAYS CANBERRA’S MESSAGE SHOULD BE ‘OPEN ARMS, NOT LETHAL ARMS’

A new community campaign, No Airport Arms Ads (NAAA), believes Canberra is badly-served, as the national capital and as a congenial place to live, by the placement at Canberra Airport of advertisements for arms companies. NAAA says ‘open arms, not lethal arms’ should be Canberra’s message.

NAAA believes these advertisements could be offensive to many people, particularly refugees from countries which have been torn apart by heavily-armed warring parties. The advertisements also distort the image that Canberra presents to visitors and returning residents. Their prominence at the airport reflects the wealth of the companies concerned, not their importance to the Canberra community.

NAAA has approached Canberra Airport management, which says it sees weapons industry airport advertising in purely commercial terms. NAAA disagrees. ‘Weapons are in a totally different category from other commodities that are bought and sold,’ said NAAA convenor Dr Sue Wareham.  ‘They cause untold human suffering, and their promotion distracts us from more peaceful means of addressing disputes.  For our national capital airport, this is unacceptable.’

Some of the companies advertising at the airport are:

·       Austal (manufacturers of patrol boats on watch for refugees);

·       Raytheon (the world’s largest producer of guided missiles);

·       Lockheed Martin (maker of drones and the massively expensive and troubled F-35 fighter – to which Australia is committed though it is described as ‘a disaster’ by the              Washington Post); and

·       BAE Systems (Australia’s largest arms manufacturer, whose parent company was fined $US400 million in 2010 under US anti-bribery legislation).

Raytheon, BAE and Thyssen Krupp (another of the featured companies) are all involved in the production of nuclear-equipped ships and planes, when most of the world is trying to get rid of nuclear arms.

NAAA’s Dr David Stephens said, ‘these are the sort of ads you would see in a backwoods Southern US town whose economy relies on building parts for jet fighters. They are incongruous in a vibrant, diverse national capital.’

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Campaign launch

NAAA launches its campaign in Civic Square, Canberra, at 10.30 am on Saturday, 29 August. The speakers will be (ret’d) Bishop George Browning, Sue Salthouse (Canberra Citizen of the Year) and Diana Abdel-Rahman (President, Australian Muslim Voice).

Contact: David Stephens 0413 867 972 or Sue Wareham 6253 1117 or 0407 924 152.

www.mapw.org.au