Christian Leaders Condemn Weapons Sale Announcement
The Turnbull Government’s announcement that Australia will increase its sale of weapons has been condemned by Christian leaders.
The government announced that it will establish a $3.8 billion fund to grow Australia’s defence export industry, a decision that it suggests will create jobs.
The Defence Export Facility will be a government-funded loans program to help Australian arms manufacturers to access overseas markets. According to Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, this will make Australia one of the top ten arms producing countries. Australia is currently ranked number 20.
World Vision chief advocate, the Rev. Tim Costello, told Sky News that the government had made the wrong decision.
“Our government says we’ll only sell to responsible countries, but the Middle-East teaches us that eventually those weapons end up in the wrong hands,” Rev. Costello said.
“This is a world awash with weapons.”
Past Moderator of the Uniting Church in Australia Synod of NSW and ACT Rev. Dr. Brian Brown also commented about the policy on Twitter.
I would like to hear how our “Christian” MP’s justify the goal to be in the top 10 of the world’s arms exporters. When did “Blessed are the peacemakers” become “Blessed are the moneymakers”?
— Rev. Dr Brian Brown (@BrianBrownUCA) January 28, 2018
Former Uniting Church Chaplain to Sydney University Rev. Dr. John Hirt told Insights that the church needed to stand against the government’s policy.
“In an age in which violence is unrestrained why would Australia want to contribute to the manufacture of more weapons made for only one purpose and that is to kill people?” Rev. Dr. Hirt said.
“The Bible says “blessed are the peacemakers.” It doesn’t say, “blessed are the weapons makers.””
“I think the church needs to be heard loud and clear and that is we do no not and cannot in the name of Christ endorse more and more killing apparatuses.”
I would like to hear what the priests and pastors of our Christian leaders think about the $3.8billion fund to promote arms exports. What happened to the common good?
— Rev. Dr Brian Brown (@BrianBrownUCA) January 29, 2018
A less secure world
In a statement, Australian Council for International Development (ACFID) CEO Marc Purcell said that the move, combined with cuts to Australia’s aid program, made for a less secure world.
“The $3.8bn loan the Government is putting up for arms manufacturers is the same amount Australia spent on our entire aid program last year,” he said.
“We need to refocus on reducing the drivers of conflict – helping people with the building blocks of survival, livelihood and dignity.”
Foreign minister Julie Bishop has said that Australia would base its arms trade on “strategic concerns” and would negotiate sales on “a case by case basis.”
The announcement appears to have bipartisan support, but has been opposed by crossbenchers and the Greens.
(Pictured) Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announces $3.8 billion fund to grow Australia’s defence export industry
Jonathan Foye is Insights’ Editor
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