Greens Leader Adam Bandt, speaking ahead of the Melbourne Institute's 2023 Social & Economic Outlook Conference, which he is addressing along with the Prime Minister, today calls on the Prime Minister, Defence Minister and the Labor government to stop Defence exports to Israel.
Mr Bandt warns that the Minister for Defence, Richard Marles, also had obligations under Australian law to consider whether Australian exports could be used in the committing of war crimes, abusing human rights or aggravating threats to peace and security, and Mr Bandt is seeking advice on the legality of existing exports given the growing international condemnation of the Israeli military’s collective punishment of Palestinians in Gaza.
Department of Defence evidence to Senate estimates following questions by Greens Senator David Shoebridge last week revealed the Australian government had approved 350 defence export permits to Israel in the last five years, including 50 this year.
The Minister and the Department have refused to reveal how the exports are being used by the Israeli military.
The Greens have condemned the attacks by Hamas on October 7, called for the release of the hostages and prisoners and called on the Australian government to push for a ceasefire and an end to the invasion of Gaza.
In issuing permits, the Defence Trade Controls Regulation 2013 requires the Minister to consider a range of risks, including the risk that goods may be used to commit or facilitate serious abuses of human rights, in criminal activity or used to aggravate threats to peace and security.
Greens Leader Adam Bandt said:
“War crimes are being committed in the invasion of Gaza, so Labor must stop military exports to Israel.
“The Minister for Defence has legal obligations to consider whether Australian exports will be used in war crimes or threaten a region’s stability, but regardless of the legal situation, it is immoral for military exports to Israel to continue while Palestine is being illegally occupied and invaded.
“If the Defence Minister won’t act, the Prime Minister must show leadership and halt military exports to Israel and push for a ceasefire and an end to the occupation.
“Deaths in Gaza are approaching ten thousand, most of them children and women. Labor cannot wash its hands of responsibility for what is happening.”
Senator David Shoebridge Greens spokesperson for Defence said:
“Australia’s weapons export system is one of the most secretive and unaccountable in the world, with the public being kept in the dark about what weapons are sold, how much they cost or who is using them.
“Once the weapons leave our shores Defence simply washes its hands and does no follow-up on how the weapons are being used.
“This is not limited to Israel, Australia is also sending weapons and other military equipment to regimes like Sudan, Saudi Arabia, the UAE, Indonesia and other countries currently engaged in brutal conflicts."