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No arms race at 'Our Place'

No arms race at 'Our Place'

From: Peace Action Wellington

The annual Defence Industry Conference is scheduled for October 18 and 19 at Te Papa. Peace Action Wellington has been actively campaigning to stop this conference and a range of actions are planned for the days of the conference. There will be a public protest starting from Civic Square at 12:30pm on October 18 that will include an invasion staged by the Revolutionary Clown Army.

"It is deeply offensive that a weapons conference is being hosted at the same institution as some of Aotearoa's most valuable taonga. 'Our place' is no place for an arms fair. The Museum of New Zealand Act of 1992 says that it has a responsibility to ensure that the Museum is a source of pride for all New Zealanders. But how can we be proud of a place that hosts a weapons conference?" said Peace Action Wellington member Valerie Morse.

The Defence Industry Association is comprised of New Zealand companies involved in the manufacture of a wide variety of military-related hardware. Some of the companies are subsidiaries of multinational corporations involved in the nuclear weapons industry overseas.

"The Government has been supporting defence related businesses with grants from Trade and Enterprise. In 2003, Flexisolutions was awarded $100,000 to develop the jungle-sweeper grenade. It is totally contradictory for the NZ Government to claim it is acting as a good international citizen in peacekeeping missions while it is simultaneously supporting the development of an arms trade."

The annual conference is not just a meeting of members. Delegates at the 2003 conference included representatives from General Dynamics and Lockheed Martin, two of the world’s largest manufacturers of arms including ballistic missiles. Other delegates of note included representatives from Halliburton, Sikorsky Helicopter and the US Army.

Peace Action is working to end the use of Te Papa as a conference venue for this annual meeting. Similarly, we are campaigning against the use of tax-payer money to fund weapons’ research and development. Ultimately, we want an end to any arms trade in NZ

ENDS

Fact Sheet

-Attendees at the 2003 conference included Lockheed Martin, one of the world's largest weapons manufacturers. Lockheed makes * Air-to-Air Missiles * Anti-Armor Missiles * Fire Support * Precision Strike * Strategic Systems

- New Zealand Trade and Enterprise, the Government's Trade Agency, is actively involved in seeking to expand NZ's share of the US 'homeland security' market. "As well as the on-going needs of the US military, there’s an immediate need for off-the-shelf products for Homeland Security at federal, state and local levels". http://www.nzte.govt.nz/section/11894/11645.aspx

NZDIA member companies include:

- Oscmar International Ltd, Auckland HQ - 'realistic' shoot-to-kill laser training equipment, including equipment for use in urban warfare training centres; infantry weapons effects simulators, shoulder launched anti-tank weapon simulators, land mines effects simulators, and more - "a world leader in the field of Realistic Combat Simulation" ... They have exported more than 60,000 simulators to 15 countries; including Australia, Thailand, Denmark, India, and France. There have been reports that Oscmar have sold more than 9,000 simulator sets to the Indonesian armed forces.

- Marine Air Systems, Lower Hutt - manufacture weapons firing control systems, communication systems for mortar and artillery batteries, remote detonation systems, devices for remote initiation of explosives and pyrotechnics for battlefield 'inoculation' exercises, and armed forces command and control systems. Their products include the Vanguard artillery computer, the Morfire hand held IBM compatible battlefield computer which "puts the future of the mortar into the palm of your hand"; the Bullseye aerial bombing scoring system; the Swordfish system for the demolition of underwater obstacles and targets in shallow waters; MAS Burst Radio modems for military HF, VHF, and UHF radios to connect battlefield computer systems; and more. Marine Air Systems is part of the British based Hall and Watts Defence Group.

-Every day, on average close to thirty one and a half thousand children under the age of five die from disease and malnutrition because of lack of access to clean water, food or basic health care. Every day, global military expenditure averages out to more than $2.63 billion (US).

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