Senator David Shoebridge – moving a motion regarding the need for the Government to cease its “secretive military export system”

Photo of Senator David Shoebridge
February 28, 2024

We know that Australia exports military equipment to Israel, but the Albanese government is determined to mislead the public to avoid accountability.

Senator SHOEBRIDGE (New South Wales) (16:45): At the request of Senator McKim, I move:

That, in the opinion of the Senate, the following is a matter of urgency:

The need for the Government to cease using one of the most secretive military export systems in the world to hide from the public the export of Australian military equipment to the State of Israel, particularly as the Chief Economist of Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade (DFAT) has acknowledged that DFAT data showing millions of dollars in ‘arms and ammunition’ being exported to Israel is credible.

We know that Australia exports military equipment to Israel, but the Albanese government is determined to mislead the public to avoid accountability. Previously, when I revealed that Australia was exporting military equipment to Israel, Minister Wong accused me and the Greens of misinformation. Keeping this in mind, I want to start by reading from a statement issued in the last few days by the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, urging countries to stop exporting military equipment to Israel:

The United States and Germany are by far the largest arms exporters and shipments have increased since 7 October 2023. Other military exporters include France, the United Kingdom, Canada and Australia.

…   …   …

State officials involved in arms exports may be individually criminally liable for aiding and abetting any war crimes …

Is the UN also spreading misinformation? And, as this motion mentions, the chief economist of DFAT, Penny Wong’s own department, said of DFAT’s data, which shows that Australia has exported millions and millions of dollars worth of arms and ammunition to Israel in the last five years, including as recently as October, ‘I would say there has been no question or challenge to the credibility of any of the data we publish.’ When he says that, is DFAT’s chief economist accused of misinformation?

What about the Australian companies bragging about the military equipment they sell to the Israeli arms industry and the Israeli Ministry of Defense? These are companies that many Labor MPs have visited. They have taken photos amongst the production lines of the military equipment that has been exported. Are those companies spreading misinformation? What about the glossy government brochures trumpeting Australia’s role in the production of F-35 parts, including the mechanisms that open the bomb bay doors of F-35s used by the Israeli military to rain bombs on Gaza? What about those glossy brochures from Defence that were mysteriously scrubbed off Defence’s website since October? Is Defence lying too and spreading misinformation?

When a Palestinian in Gaza sees an Australian-made drone drifting over their home and highlighting them or their family as a target, are they not understanding what they see? When a spike missile from Rafael demolishes a Gazan hospital, guided by one of the integration kits Australia pumps into the global supply chain or when an Israeli military armoured vehicle drives over the rubble of a home in Gaza, literally protected by Australian steel, are the Palestinians who are experiencing this right now and who are facing these weapons that we exported just imagining it? Is that the line from the government? Far from stopping the arms trade with Israel, the Israeli government won’t even acknowledge it’s happening. It won’t even own up to the violence that they are permitting with weapons that Australia sells. But the public knows and the public sees what has been done, and they can see they’ve been gaslighted by this government.

Today, a two-month-old baby in Gaza died from malnutrition—just one of thousands and thousands of Palestinian children. The thought that the last thing that that child might have heard was the faint buzz of an Australian drone circling above them is an appalling thought. People want Australia to be a force for good in the world and a force for peace, and instead the Albanese government has tied itself to the harm industry, just like the coalition before them. Today we saw that the Albanese government has given Australian weapons company Elbit Systems a billion-dollar contract for Australia’s infantry fighting vehicle. This is the same company that announced its expectation of superprofits from the war on Gaza due to ‘the increase in demand for our solutions by the Israeli Ministry of Defense’. Make no mistake; Elbit is using the brutal assault on Palestinians to sell its weapons, actively experimenting on—and then working with the Israeli military to celebrate—how effectively they kill Palestinians, and the Australian government is buying hundreds and hundreds of millions of dollars of equipment from it. How on earth could any government with a moral compass do this?

I urge this chamber to support this motion. I urge the government to admit not just to the public but to the world Australia’s complicity in what’s going on in Gaza. Why hide? Why gaslight? It’s because the government knows that the public is against it on this. The government is trying everything it can to disempower the millions of Australians demanding a better world. But enough is enough. It’s time for the government to stop the two-way arms race with the State of Israel. It’s time to call for an immediate ceasefire. It’s time to— (Time expired)

Link to Parliamentary Hansard