Wednesday, 17 March 2021
An invite-only drinks at Parliament House with Elbit Systems – Israel’s largest privately-owned weapons company – has been facilitated by former Defence Minister Christopher Pyne, highlighting the urgent need for reforms in Australian politics to stop the revolving door of politicians becoming lobbyists.
Australian Greens peace and disarmament spokesperson Senator Jordon Steele-John said Elbit Systems – a worldwide purveyor of advanced unmanned aircraft (drones), and advanced surveillance and electronic warfare equipment, including weapons considered illegal under international laws of war such as white phosphorous and cluster bombs – have no place in the halls of Australia’s parliament.
“Elbit systems was awarded contracts worth roughly $89 million between August 2018 and May 2019 when Christopher Pyne was Defence Minister. Now, barely 18 months later, he is here inside Parliament House spruiking weapons on their behalf at an invite-only event for sympathetic MPs!” Steele-John said.
“Christopher Pyne’s lobbying firm – Pyne and Partners – now lists Elbit Systems as one of its major clients, a relationship that was clearly forged when he was Defence Minister.
“As our Defence Minister he was paid by the taxpayers to make decisions in the public interest, not to network for his own personal financial gain. This is one of the most egregious and sickening examples of the revolving door of former politicians becoming lobbyists for their big corporate mates that I have seen.
“Elbit is a company that markets their weaponry as being ‘field tested’ by the Israeli Defence Force, a reference to the extensive use of Elbit Systems equipment in Palestine where they have profited from the ongoing occupation and oppression of Palestinian people.
“In taking Pyne to task for this association, the Greens join a growing international outcry.
“Those who have divested from Elbit include the Norwegian Pension Fund, Danish financial watchdog Danwatch, the French investment firm AXA Investment Managers, and global banking giant HSBC. Norwegian Minister of Finance Kristin Halvorsen was clear in his views, saying ‘We do not wish to fund companies that so directly contribute to violations of international humanitarian law’, violations that Christopher Pyne overlooks in his pursuit of personal profit.”
The event will take place in the Dame Enid Lyons Alcove tonight from 5 – 7pm and is invite-only. The Greens were not invited.