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Trade – Defence Industries Exports

Cassy O'Connor MP

Cassy O'Connor MP  -  Monday, 6 June 2022

Tags: Violence, Trade

Ms O'CONNOR - Okay, thank you. Premier, over the 2018-19 financial year Australia issued 45 weapons export permits to the United Arab Emirates, 23 to Saudi Arabia, 14 to Sri Lanka and four to the Democratic Republic of Congo. Militaries and militias in all of those countries have been consistently accused of human rights violations, including war crimes and crimes against humanity. As Minister for Trade, can your account for all Tasmanian arms exports or the technology that contributes towards arms? Can you claim with confidence that none of our arms exports, which is an export market you're actively trying to grow, either go directly or indirectly to militaries and militias linked with war crimes and human rights violations or end up in supply chains that do?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Just for clarification, Ms O'Connor, when you say, 'arms' you mean with respect to -

Ms O'CONNOR - The advanced manufacturing technologies under the defence section of the Trade portfolio.

Mr ROCKLIFF - First can I say they are military exports regulated by the Australian Government -

Ms O'CONNOR - But you'd take an interest as Trade minister in making sure we weren't giving weaponry to human rights abusers and militias?

Mr ROCKLIFF - I'm advised we don't have any arms exports. I think we had this conversation a few years ago when I was minister for defence industries and a lot of the technology we're utilising with respect to our innovation and in our defence industry space is really about protecting people.

Ms O'CONNOR - But if you're giving arms to Saudi Arabia, for example; or if you're providing equipment that goes towards arming Saudi Arabia in its war in Yemen, isn't that a concern to Tasmania?

Mr ROCKLIFF - Are you talking about Australian Government, which regulates matters?

Ms O'CONNOR - I would have thought that you, as Tasmania's Minister for Trade, might take an interest in making sure that materials that are produced here by our people, are not going towards genocide or activities or human rights abuses in other countries like Yemen.

Mr ROCKLIFF - I am advised that, in fact, we don't have arms exports. Of course, when it comes to the Minister for Advanced Manufacturing and Defence Industries - and you have also have spoken to Rear Admiral Steven Gilmour, before he retired - they may well be able to explore these matters. But my focus on trade is the key markets that we mentioned on Budget day - New Zealand; Indonesia; Singapore; Japan; and others - with our wonderful produce and the unique offerings we have in our premium product space.

Ms O'CONNOR - That is marvelous; but my question related to supply chain checks on components of weapons that may be produced in Tasmania and are sent to governments whose values don't align with Australia's, actually.

Mr ROCKLIFF - Of course, you'll put this question to our Minister for Advanced Manufacturing and Defence Industries. As I've said, I'm advised we don't have any arms exports in terms of the niche areas of advanced manufacturing. Looking around, I can confirm that is the case. I'm not aware of any. I stand to be corrected.