The Guardian • Issue #2091


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2091

As the body count in Gaza and the West Bank continues to rise after hitting 30,000, Richard Marles and Penny Wong claim that Australia is not sending weapons to Israel, arguing that their hands are clean. The truth is, as the Michael West report has revealed, that Australia exports military goods to Israel. The government even runs the risk of being prosecuted for war crimes. This country has sent more than $10 million in arms and ammunition to Israel since 2019.  Greens Senator David Shoebridge put it bluntly: “Wong’s own department says in their published data that we have sent more than $10 million in arms and ammunition to Israel in the last five years.”

Wong has accused Shoebridge of contributing to “disinformation and misinformation,” but that’s what she’s doing when she flatly denies sending weapons to Israel. Wong is relying on a very narrow definition of ‘weapons’ used by the UN, the Register of Conventional Arms. They only count whole weapons and don’t include weapons parts. So Wong is right, in that sense.

But modern military weapons aren’t simple items like bricks or pieces of timber. They consist of lots of different parts, also maintenance contracts and services. As West says, every F-35 bomber contains some Australian parts. More than 70 Australian companies help the F-35 program out with parts and services. Wong’s words are no comfort to the victims of Israeli genocide.

As heat gets worse, it’s no surprise to hear that disadvantaged people, and particularly Indigenous Australians are disproportionately affected. A survey from ACOSS, the Australian Council of Social Service, has found that 80 per cent of disadvantaged people are living in homes that get too hot in summer. Of those people, 72 per cent of First Nations respondents have trouble cooling their homes.

A lot of people had a laugh when Barnaby Joyce, our former deputy-PM, was found drunk on his back in a Canberra street, shouting obscenities into his phone. With some it added to Joyce’s image as a loveable larrikin, instead of the private school-educated silvertail he really is. Others have worried if Barnaby is alright. Over at the National Indigenous Times, Reece Hartley has asked a good question; what if Barnaby had been Black? Joyce would probably have wound up in the back of a paddy wagon at the very least. “The behaviour of an Indigenous person under the influence is criminalised, whereas the same behaviour by a non-Indigenous Australian, especially a high-ranking politician, is considered within the context of privacy, care, and concern for his welfare,” says Hartley.

Parasite of the Week: Leah Weckert, CEO of Coles.  Weckert must have loved all the focus on Woolworths CEO Brad Banducci, who stormed out of an interview only to shuffle back on again. It made her look calm and reasonable. On the same program, Weckert was confronted by Coles’ pretence that its wine brands are produced by little wineries in the Barossa. Her answer, that the fake brands “resonate with our consumers” meaning that fooling customers is something that works for Coles, so they’re going to keep doing it – is a capitalist classic. They do it because they can.

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