Australia should be a nation that leads the world in promoting peace not war

The ACT Humanist Society challenges the newly released plan of the Federal Government for a $3.8 billion Defence Export Facility to assist arms industry companies wanting to find overseas markets.

"Weapons are designed to kill and maim human beings," said the Society’s Convenor Mary-Anne Cosgrove. "As Humanists we completely reject the philosophy which finds it acceptable to boost industry, create jobs, increase exports and protect local manufacturing via the arms trade."

Humanism is a lifestance aiming for the maximum possible fulfilment of human potential, through the cultivation of ethical and creative living. It offers an ethical and rational means of addressing the challenges of our times. Humanists believe in treating all humans with compassion and respect.

Four major issues concern the Society:

  • There is enormous difference between a defence manufacturing industry to protect Australia and the development of a weapons export industry.

  • It is a matter of great concern and sorrow that Australia's overseas aid has dropped to its lowest level ever, while at the same time plans are underway to increase the sale of weapons.

  • The government's assurances about establishing and maintaining "controls" over which nations access Australian weapons lack detail on methods of oversight and on how such controls would be policed.

  • Australia's considerable design and production expertise would be better used in projects that promote peace among nations and care of earth, particularly in places and electorates where people lack employment opportunities.

The United Nations Arms Trade Treaty came into force in December 2014, and has 130 signatories, and 89 ratifications, including Australia’s. Australia has a history of positive actions for peace internationally, but recent decades have reversed that admirable record. 

"We strongly urge the government to resist the hypocrisy of talking about peace while financing and supporting the arms trade," Mary-Anne said. "Over 90% of those who die in war zones are not soldiers, but civilians, including so many of the most defenceless humans - the children. It is reprehensible for government and industry authorities to pursue financial and electoral gain through promoting the weapons which enable the escalation of violence."

“It is not strong defence exports that will safeguard Australia against conflict, but strong and respectful relationships between Australia and countries in and outside our region,” she concluded.

ACT Humanists believe our Government’s foreign policy should be focused on dialogue with and support for other countries to address the causes of war and offer resources to help create the conditions of peace – not actively promote measures that perpetuate war.


For immediate release.

Further comment: Mary-Anne Cosgrove  0408 945 360