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Byron Shire
June 18, 2021

Land Forces: A killer of an expo in Brisbane

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It may surprise some people to learn that the Brisbane Exhibition Centre, normally the venue for bridal expos and trucking displays, will this year play host to the Land Forces Expo, an arms fair where the business of war will be very much on display.

The Land Forces website claims the expo is ‘…an international industry event to showcase equipment, technology and services for the armies of Australia and the Indo-Asia-Pacific’.

For sale and on display will be tanks and armoured vehicles; ammunition; guns; attack helicopters; weaponised land-based robots; missiles; computer/digitised interfaces for sending rockets and ammunition; camera laser systems for cannons and drones to ‘enhance lethality’ and weaponised flying drones.

Weapons to kill men, women and children

These weapons will kill men, women and children like yourself, but this will be euphemistically called ‘collateral damage’. Right now the Australian Government is paying weapons companies billions for weapons to use against ‘us’. Make no mistake this expo is where deals are done and partnerships formed to secure more of these dollars to export terror to Yemen, Myanmar, Chile, West Papua and the Philippines. As usual, arms dealers will be #makingakilling.

Land Forces 2021 will be held at the Brisbane Exhibition Centre. Its primary goals are to provide an effective platform for the exchange of ideas and networking on key land forces issues (including war games) and to take the Australian (weapons) industry to the world by bringing the world to Australia. It is an arms trade fair showcasing products of war, supposedly in the name of national security. In reality, it is a huge multimillion-dollar commercial venture where the manufacturing and associated companies are the real winners and ‘doing business is easy’.

There will be a couple of killing conferences alongside a massive killing expo. All the major weapons companies will be there, alongside Australian Defence Force representatives, plus defence ministers and trade delegations from over 70 nations.

These CEOs and ministers are normally inaccessible. Land Forces will bring them together in one place at one time, presenting us with a rare opportunity to speak truth to their power.

This event is the culmination of a major shift in Australian government policy in recent years. ‘In July 2017, the Australian government announced its ambition to become a “top 10” defence exporter by 2028, and has since been rolling out its Defence Export Strategy with the goal of building “a stronger, more sustainable and more globally competitive Australian defence industry”.’ (Save the Children Fund, 2019, p.3).

The Australian Defence Export Office (ADEO) is now situated within the Department of Defence, strengthening the influence of weapons dealers and US defence personnel in the corridors of power in Canberra.

The money has been flowing even more freely since the government included the defence industries as part of the COVID-19 recovery strategy, led by the Centre for Defence Industry Capability.

Australia currently pours a staggering $98.9m a day into our so-called defence forces and related agendas. War-making and weapons manufacturing and trading takes precedence over funding crucial social areas, such as public housing, health, employment and education initiatives.

Are we a safe country or a war zone?

It is important to be aware that whether we live in a ‘safe’ country or in a war zone, the weapons sold at Land Forces will ultimately point at us. Police forces around the world are becoming increasingly militarised, meaning that they use military grade weapons, military-style uniforms, vehicles and surveillance technology. Weapons are used to suppress civil society movements with disturbing regularity, from tear gas and water cannons through to machine guns and sniper rifles. Recently we have seen the police in Chile aiming rubber bullets at people’s eyes, blinding many. At least 25 West Papuan civilians were killed by the army and police in 2020, on suspicion of being ‘separatists’. Two of those killed were 12 years old.

The Amazon is a particularly dangerous place to be an environmental activist, as is the Phillipines. While Australia and the US are dangerous places to be black. There is no safety where there are heavily armed soldiers and police. Whoever and wherever we are, those weapons are meant for us.

But what can citizens do about this expo and about this killing trade? Why not stop / close / cancel it?

We don’t think we can stop it – this time. However we can put our bodies, our minds and creativity in the way – to ‘disrupt’ it, using NVDA strategies and tactics. We can disrupt in any way we can with zero harm to living beings using: sound, sight, smell; movement and music; nonviolent direct action; projection art; your ideas?

#disruptlandforces is a campaign coalition including anti-militarist, feminist, First Nations, refugee, climate action and other community groups who are concerned about the rise of, and financial and humanitarian cost of militarism in Australia. The official event dates – are 1–3 June, but the disruption will start on May 28! We are asking activists to travel to Brisbane/ Meanjin ahead of time, so that we can plan and prepare on the weekend before Land Forces begins. We will help with billeting and we can connect you with a group if you don’t already have one.

Collaborators and cooperation

We ask collaborators to agree to the following principles: 1. Respectful language and behaviour with each other 2. Actions are nonviolent = we do not harm other living beings.

Some of you may be aware that the protests have already begun. As we approach Land Forces 2021, some of us have begun to take protest action at weapons companies such as Rheinmetall, EOS, Thales, Boeing and NIOA. We encourage you to target an arms dealer with your group, in any way you can following our principles.

Our website, Instagram and Facebook page are available as spaces for you to publicise your group and your actions. You are welcome to use any of our ‘reasons to resist’, any of our images and the #disruptlandforces logo.

We invite all of you to come to Brisbane if you are able. If not, we hope that you become more informed about this crucial issue, and do what you can to speak about it, draw attention to it and share and amplify the message and publicise the event through social media and your own networks.

For more information visit: disruptlandforces.org.

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  1. I am in favour of the labor to rip the budget out of the defence force spending. Tell anyone to vote against Scott Morrison. Defence force spending is a waste of tax payers money and we are against it. Tell anyone with their kids to steer clear away from the recruiting campaigns which is advertising. I could not come over by train or bus because there are covid 19. We need to keep on protesting until they do something about cutting back the defence force spending.

  2. That’s a very biased view for a multifaceted argument. One might also say these arms are also protecting and deterring all the things you mentioned.
    Feel free to stop spending on military defense of this country but I hope you really like China’s implementation of communism. Keep in mind that you would most likely be locked up in jail without charges for saying and doing what you currently have the freedom to do and that freedom you take for granted unfortunately came in some way from defending against tyranny using the very things you are apposed about.

    That’s what I love about the far left, take some high moral ground and make irrational unsupported argument so you feel good. Nobody in their right mind want children being killed or war or famine. You think any of the free western societies want to spend massive amounts of money on Arms?

  3. Mark M: you resort to the usual verbal tactics: ‘you’d be locked up in China’, etc. Here are some facts for you: the Australian govt is increasing the defence budget hugely – using my taxes and yours. They declared they want to be in the top 10 arms EXPORTERS in the world, selling the instruments of death to tyrannical regimes like Saudi Arabia. Australia supported the 2013 Arms Trade Treaty, which is supposed to stop arms exports where these are likely to be used to kill civilians, violate human rights etc. That is exactly what the Saudis are doing in Yemen, with Australian weapons. In other words, we are violating the very international law we helped to create. Even the United States has stopped selling weapons to the Saudis because of their human rights abuses and war in Yemen. And yes, I DO know what I am talking about: I have researched and taught in the field for 30 years. To answer your question: ‘You think any of the free western societies want to spend massive amounts of money on Arms?’ YES, they do and they are doing it. Governments use taxpayers’ money and subsidise the weapon manufacturers. It is the weapons manufacturers who are becoming billionaires out of it.


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