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Stopping the War Fair

Last Sunday I was invited to a meeting of around twenty people in a tiny Adelaide office, and was proud to participate in the vote to adopt the name of the Stop the War Fair Committee. It's a rare collection of organisations and individuals determined to show the public not just of the Defence Capital but of the rest of the country, what they're participating in.

Here's the media release that came out today:

On November 11, the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day, a group of arms dealers and manufacturers from around the world will meet in Adelaide. Invited by the premier of South Australia, Mike Rann, they will be here for the Asia-Pacific Defence and Security Exhibition (APDSE) — the first major arms fair to be held in Australia since AIDEX in 1991.

Alongside major corporations, the governments of France, Germany, Israel, Italy, South Africa, Britain, and the United States have booked space. These countries represent the source of 80% of all military equipment used in conflicts throughout the world; conflicts in which ordinary people are killed, maimed, raped, made homeless and destitute every day.

Yet to the arms companies and their political allies this death and destruction is not about the suffering of people, but about a simple economic consideration: every bullet used makes some arms trader richer, every bomb dropped improves the bottom line of some “defence” company.

Now this global industry has identified the Asia-Pacific region as being the fastest-growing arms market in the world, and Australian governments and companies are keen to get in on the action.

The APDSE is part of Rann’s vision of turning Adelaide into the high-tech arms development and trade capital of the southern hemisphere.

Resources and skills that could be committed to fighting climate change, developing new health-care technologies, or creating environmentally responsible industries will be channelled into a trade in death and horror that will make a handful of corporations and politicians very rich, and thousands of civilians very dead.

We need to stop this nightmare vision before it begins.

Come to Adelaide

Large demonstrations against AIDEX in 1989 and 1991 helped stop federal government plans for further fairs and the development of Australia as an arms trade hub. The politicians may have forgotten, but the people haven’t, and it’s time to do it again.

From November 8–13 in Adelaide there will be a range of activities to protest the APDSE and the arms trade, and to promote a better world based on sustainability, respect, and freedom.

We invite all who believe in social justice and human rights to come to Adelaide and join together in opposition to the APDSE and everything it represents. Peace activists, workers, students, trade unionists, environmentalists, Indigenous groups, artists, community campaigners — come to Adelaide and raise your voice against the violence and immorality of an industry and economy based on death.


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Big win!

If am to believe SA acting premier Kevin Foley, folk who would protest above mentioned arms fair obscenity to the extent that it is now cancelled, are "feral lowlifes" and "feral anarchists".

The reason for its demise is blamed on those naughty demonstrators, of course.

But I'd like to think someone's conscience finally got through to them.

This year's showbags

Out walking the dog this evening (species-centrism, according to her!) and bumped into a bloke I know, a muso, who was telling me about an upcoming event up that equates to above. Here I am, some hours later and just connected one with the other.

Wonder if they will do thirteen to the dozen as special discount on land mines, or ten percent off for cluster bombs.

Last year's showbags

Souvenir pens, booklets, flyers, high quality glossy magazines, as much as I could carry.  And that was just a warm-up event!  Loved the demo model of the BAE missile decoy, the diorama of the warship precinct, and the nibbles weren't bad either. Lucky the bags were, for a change, nice and sturdy.

Was told that the bigger players (KBR and BAE aren't  "bigger players?) didn't have stalls there because they didn't need to ... this was underling-stuff.  Mind you, the story's already done a Chinese whisper loop.  It was told to me last night about a couple of blokes from Sydney.

What was the event you heard of, Paul?

War a self-fulfilling prophecy

Australia's Defence Minister, Joel Fitzgibbon, told the National Press Club a few weeks ago that we now face "an increasingly uncertain security environment".

Really? The Human Security Project at Simon Fraser University in Canada finds the world becoming, on one important measure, a safer place. The number of armed conflicts fell, between 1994 and 2005, by 40 per cent. The number of deaths from organised violence has also plunged since the end of the Cold War. Yet the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute's annual survey of global military spending reveals that the cost of arms has remorselessly risen, up over the same period by 37 per cent, over and above inflation.

If Labor is convinced we are facing a growing threat, then ministers have some explaining to do. One of those advising on the white paper is Professor Ross Babbage, a former Defence official (and arms dealer) who has raised the spectre of invasion by India or China - unrealistic now, but with the uncomfortable feeling that, if built into our assumptions, it could become a self-fulfilling prophecy. A bit like the Russians threatening to target missile defence installations in Poland.

Funny how democracies are so war like.

Which states fight the most wars?
• The UK and France, the two states that once had the largest colonial empires, have fought the most international wars since 1946 (Fig 1.3).
• The US ranks third, and Russia/USSR fourth. Most of their wars were fought over Cold War issues.

What is it about democracy that we feel the need to force it on to everyone?

Isn't it strange how the last of the colonial empires, the so-called champions of democracy, have fought the most international wars since the end of WWII. The next in line as warmonger of the century is the new kid on the block, empire builder wannabe - the US.

Could it be that in times of peace, politicians are trying to win votes by creating all sorts of enemies to increase our fear factor?

When democracies are armed to the teeth others will always follow.

It has been shown the democracies cannot be trusted.

Ask the people of Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan.

Warming up

The fliers and 4 page glossies are bouncing around Adelaide. People coming into the pub and asking if they can put things up. It's becoming quite an undercurrent.

From Katie Cherrington in the GLW today:


The Aidex exhibitions, held in Canberra in 1989 and 1991, were the biggest armaments fairs ever held in the southern hemisphere. Several thousand people participated in protests against the 1991 event, and a picket/blockade, endorsed by the ACT Trades and Labour Council, forced police to cut holes in the fences to let the arms dealers into the site under heavy police escort.

At least one protester was run over.

Arms fairs were subsequently banned in the ACT. Aidex 1993 was scheduled to be held in NSW, but then quietly cancelled after the threat of more protests resulted in many arms companies withdrawing. No arms fairs have been held in Australia since 1991.

Trent Hawkins, a Melbourne anti-war activist involved in the campaign against APDSE, told Green Left Weekly, “Workers, peace and social justice activists, students, environmentalists, religious and community organisations must come together to stop this war-fest. Public pressure has stopped major arms fairs in Australia for 15 years, but the APDSE is an attempt by Australia to force its way back into the global arms market.

“We are facing a climate emergency that threatens to destroy the planet. Peace is now a question of survival for humanity, not only because of the nuclear threat, but because military spending takes resources away from health, education and environmental repair. We must bring an end to war profiteering.”

Planning for protests against the APDSE is already underway, with buses being organised to transport people to Adelaide from Perth, Alice Springs, Tasmania, Sydney and Melbourne. Details of the protest actions, to be held on November 8-13, are still being coordinated and ideas are welcome.

So, any ideas? Oh, and has anyone been going to the "Canberra Division" meetings?

APDSE events and info


8th - 11th NOVEMBER: Picket the setting up of the APDSE 

9th NOVEMBER: A Festival of Peace and Remembrance will take place in Adelaide to commemorate the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day and mark the beginning of nationwide protests against the arms trade.

11th NOVEMBER: Peace actions and vigils will take place outside of the Adelaide Convention Centre, commemorating the 90th anniversary of Armistice Day and protesting the opening of the arms fair.

11-13 NOVEMBER: Peaceful protests by groups and individuals from all over Australia will take place in Adelaide. 


OCTOBER 11*: all ages show with high school bands. Venue, costs and artists to be confirmed.

OCTOBER 25*: benefit gig at Victorian Trades Hall, New Ballroom. Acts and costs to be confirmed.

OCTOBER*: film night - launch of documentary from the Pine Gap protests in 2002.


AUGUST 29*: Public meeting @ UTS 7.30pm - a chance to hear from a speaker from Adelaide involved in the preparations for anti-APDSE protests and someone who was part of the 1991 AIDEX protests in Canberra.

AUGUST 31*: Film screening and discussion, with footage from the 1991 AIDEX protests.  5pm @ Balck Rose Books, 22 Enmore Rd, just near Newtown train station.

*both gigs organised by the Mutiny Collective in Sydney 


It's probably a good time to meet the folks at the eye of the oncoming cyclone:

Our origins were as a group of like minded friends who were all involved in organising the campaign against AIDEX 89 & 91 in Canberra, many of whom were members of the Renegade Activists' Action Force, and our mission and priorities have not changed.

Since we first became politically active in the 70s & 80s the world has changed substantially. First and foremost in the way corporate entities have been given greater rights than human beings. While we resisted this move for a long time, it became painfully apparent to us that our work in opposing the increasing militarisation of Australian industry and society at large would be enhanced by speaking in the language of the 21st century. 

The decision to establish as a private company in 2008 was not taken in a rush for profit but as good corporate citizens wishing to continue to engage, at all levels, in the public debates on the future peace and security of our country, the Asia Pacific region and the world. 

In organising against the Asia Pacific Defence & Security Exhibition, OzPeace is working on behalf of concerned individuals.

We are also working very closely with other peace, religious and social justice organisations around the country determined that such blatant displays of the machineries of death and destruction do not go uncontested.

All this and more, including downloadable flyers you can put on the noticeboard at the local pub, to be found here.

I'll keep posting notices on this thread as they arise

PS Behind that "picket" link you'll find this:

By the looks of things there will be plenty of fun and merriment in Adelaide this Remembrance Day, with a major gig planned for Sunday 9 November, alternate exhibitions, singing, dancing and (this is where the RAAF [Renegade Activists Action Force] come in) .....Blockading!

At the moment we're sussing out a place for all the mob to bivouac within a stone's throw of the APDSE, checking out the best deals on transport from Melbourne and Tasmania....but at this stage we can guarantee three things:

That there will be a protest camp
That there will be transport arranged from all capital cities and
That you'll never look at Adelaide the same way again!

Canada deports US refugee.

Canada is to deport a United States soldier who fled to the country to avoid deployment in Iraq.

Spc Jeremy Hinzman, 29, was told his family's application for refugee status had been turned down by Canada.

His supporters say Spc Hinzman, who had already served a tour of duty in Afghanistan, was the first Iraq war resister to seek sanctuary in Canada.

Some 200 deserters from the US military are believed to have fled to Canada, some living incognito.

Others have sought refugee status.

After watching the movie Stop Loss yesterday I feel very sorry for this soldier.

The film revealed some terrible figures .

Over 650,000 young US soldiers have served in Iraq and Afghanistan since 9/11. Many have served several tours. The president has issued orders to send 80,000 back for second and third tours even though their military contracts have expired. Under the Stop Loss program this can only be done in time of war. Anyone who has served in a combat zone knows how you count the day, hours, and minutes until you return to your loved ones. To be told that you must turn around and catch the next plane back must be devastating. Many would be suffering from post traumatic stress and need time to gather their emotional strength. No wonder some say no. No wonder some commit suicide. This is a policy that is worse than conscription and puts an unfair burden on those that have already given more than a nation has the right to ask. Shame on the Canadians for showing so little empathy. 

Stop-loss, in the United States military, is the involuntary extension of a service member's active duty service under the enlistment contract in order to retain them beyond their initial end of term of service (ETS) date. It also applies to the cessation of a permanent change of station (PCS) move for a member still in military service. Stop-loss was used immediately before and during the first Persian Gulf War. Since then, it has been used during American military deployments to Somalia, Haiti, Bosnia, Kosovo and during the September 11, 2001 terrorist attacks and the subsequent military actions against Afghanistan and Iraq (see War on Terror).

The policy has been legally challenged several times, however federal courts have consistently found that military service members contractually agree that their term of service may be involuntarily extended.

Major Australian musicians supporting protest

Silverchair, Powderfinger, The Cat Empire, John Butler Trio, Sneaky Sound System, Ben Lee, Jack Johnson, Missy Higgins, Kisschasey, Blue King Brown, Xavier Rudd, Sarah Blasko, Dave Graney, Augie March, Jet.

If you don't know a lot of these acts, trust me - they all have very strong followings. They've lent their names to this cause by becoming friends of the event's Myspace site.

There's going to be a series of fundraising concerts in Melbourne.

Now, if a few of the above musos could come to Adelaide to do a concert to open the week's proceedings...?

Attracting musicians

Richard, I seem to remember  suggesting something like that!

Casey Chambers, Lee Kernagan, Beccy Cole.    

But none of them are going to just come off their own bat. Have to be invited, and there must be something to invite them to.

Inviting musicians

Having started with a hens' night and a bucks' night and grown a venue, Peter, I know how to invite musicians.

Kasey I've known since she was fourteen, have even played a gig with her family band (it used to be Dad on guitar, Mum on bass, brother on drums).  She's generally stayed away from the politics, even when I've badgered her and her band.  Her brother Nash (producer/manager at time) had a Live Music legislation poster I'd given him hanging in his office.  Beccy Cole I've also known for a long time, but I doubt that she or Leigh would join this party

Paul Kelly, for instance, adamantly keeps his distance, though he did let me splice his gig out the back into simultaneous televised front-bar proclamation of SA's new live music legislation. 

The musos on the list (and there are quite a few more who I'm not that familiar with) have stuck their hands up to add their names.  I'm sure many will be doing more.

I've really not had much directly to do with what's happening.  It's coming into Adelaide under its own steam. If it comes together the way I think it will, this is a dream come true.

Being a pest

Richard, I was being a niggle! I had already gathered that you likely had such connections.

Noticed that you corrected my spellings, knew Casey was Kasey, but isn’t Lee, lee?

Anyway, I am surprised that you think that  Lee, or Leigh, wouldn’t be in it. If you get Missy Higgins there you will really amaze me.

Good luck with it.


No worries, Peter.

Have you seen the Dixie Chicks documentary Shut Up and Sing?  Worth getting hold of as a look at how strong the view of maintaining an apolitical musical environment can be felt.

I think my "favourite" experience on such front was listening to someone who'd left  a Bob Dylan concert grumbling because it included politics.  I tried half-heartedly to debate for a few minutes, but as we know there's no point piddling into the wind..

I don't know about Sydney or Melbourne, but when you get around a hundred k's from Adelaide the political compass swings dramatically to the right  There are IMHO many levels of redneck into country music, who buy a lot of albums, and of course there is a much higher percentage of country music listeners than in the city.

As for Beccy, I admire her courage in releasing "Poster girl" and support its view, and am glad its been successful. I would suspect that participating in an an anti-arms event might cloud her message.  Still, one never knows... 

That's why seeing so many popular young urban songmakers identifying themselves with this cause is all the more gratifying.  It may signify a generation starting to finally wake up to the level at which they're being exploited by the ever-increasing monetisation of warfare into the share prices and profits of multinational corporations.

Fancy dress in Tamworth comes from the cities

Richard, your assumption that there are more country music fans in rural areas may not be so. Years back there was an early morning country music session on a university station here in Sydney. (I’m trying to recall names, but names and I have never got along!) The guy who headed the outfit took over the country music station in Tamworth.

Anyway, way the hell, somewhere from Sydney a day of country music is happening, I turn up, not too many people there and a couple of the organisers are talking about the Sydney show having claimed that they would get people to turn up. They had just said something to the effect of: “who would listen to country music at that hour, anyway”, when the first of four bloody big buses, crammed to the gills rolled in.

Beccy sings some daring stuff. I have always thought that she ought to have gone to jazz, I think that she would have made a great jazz singer.

I was at Tamworth when Kasey did her first free, open air concert there. The hill was packed, on walks Kasey: ‘Fuck! I’ve never sung for this many people’. Something real about that young woman.

Wasn’t it the Dixie Chicks who got themselves blacklisted because they disowned Bush?

Perhaps some day we may be able to discuss ‘Poster girl’. To me it smacks of the Americans continual use of the dead US soldiers in Iraq to justify going on with the war. They ought never have been there in the first place, the fact some have died changes nothing, and is of no consequence.

My country right or wrong! Our military, right or wrong!

Not in my book.

John Pratt

I couldn't agree with you more.

How one stops young men from being so stupid is something which you, as a man, are in a better position than me to determine.

Weren't you in the services? Why did you sign up to kill people?

I know that that comment is offensive. I know that you are a very good man. But, I also understand that at one time you made that particular choice: and therefore, you are the kind of person who can understand and influence other young men faced with that choice.

I know a few young men in the services. To me they seem to be good men, loving husbands and fine fathers. I argue with others who say to me: they are trained killers.

Which they are.

The ball is in your court, John.

Richard: Perhaps, John, your answer should be a piece?

100 today and Stop Loss

This morning I went to a party to celebrate Ida Wilmot's 100th birthday. There were letters from the Queen, the PM, Governors both state and federal, and the federal MP; the state MP was at the party, so also was the newly elected mayor of Cairns. It was a grand celebration for a grand lady. A lady who was born in Port Douglas in 1908, a lady who has witnessed the great changes of the last 100 years.

Ida was six when WW1 began, 31 when she was married, the same year that WWII began. In 1941, during the middle of a war, Ida had her only child Alan who was born with cerebral palsy. She lived through the Korean War, the Vietnam war, and the first Gulf war. She is now witnessing the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. Ida's husband died about 50 years ago and she has on her own looked after Alan who is now 67. Family and friends gathered to help Ida celebrate someone who has lived through the turmoils of the twentieth century.

After the party I went on to lunch and the movies. I saw the movie Stop Loss a film directed by Kimberly Peirce.

Inspired by the story of her brother, who, like Brandon King, enlisted right after 9/11 in hopes of protecting his country, only to find himself fighting a very different kind of war in another country altogether, Peirce originally planned to make a documentary about returning soldiers. She changed her mind after she began hearing stories about stop-lossed soldiers who, rather than return to Iraq, went from "war heroes" to wanted fugitives overnight.

The movie is a story of young soldiers going to war in Iraq and facing all the horrors of that war, coming home still suffering from the stress of that war and being told to return to Iraq under a "stop loss" order given by President Bush. It is well acted and tells a horrible story of the demands we put on our young soldiers and have been doing for hundreds of years.

In WWI they shot deserters and people who refused to fight. Today nothing has changed.

During the fighting in Europe against the German Army in WW1, a number of soldiers from the British Army were executed at dawn, they were deserters, or shot for cowardice against their enemy. Special firing squads of 12 were selected to carry out the dreadful order to execute as many as 306, some of them as an individual in these death squads were forced to shoot their best friend.

The British Government has recently agreed (on 16th August 2006 ) to introduce a Bill in to Parliament that will grant posthumous pardons to all those executed in that manner.

I was struck by the politicians who were quick to congratulate a 100th milestone – the same politicians who are willing to send millions to their death never to celebrate another birthday.

We must stop this tragic loss. The wars of the last 100 years have achieved nothing but a fortune for a handful of global corporations. We are now faced with a real threat: climate change. It will demand the best in us to overcome, it will require the same sacrifices that we have made in war. Hopefully we will fight this battle and unite the world in the process.

I hope the young people of today will live to celebrate their 100th birthday.

dear heavens...

They are going to meet on Armistice Day? What an obscenity.

Thanks for the invite. I might make it as well.

Music, superb food -- & what was the cause?

Richard, it is awfully short notice but an approach to country music musicians might pay off. Could you guys organise a venue, or venues, they have to be able to at least cover their expenses for the trip. A good line up, with a main concert and opportunities to hear them in small venues all over could help bring a crowd.

Perhaps a camp site and a stage. You will get more local support if the locals can see something in it for them.

Do you know about ‘Getup’? If they would run the news through their network, and I suspect that they would, your reach to people likely to be interested in taking part will be massively increased.

Got any real Maoris over there? A campsite, a stage and a hangi!

I might even make it!

The show must go on ... not!

There are some good ideas coming through, Peter, that I don't want to "hex" by promoting too early. I understand what you mean though, and those aspects appear to be well-considered.

One idea I've personally suggested is what I think would be a very powerful minute's silence on 11/11.

There may be some activities that aren't on the posters and flyers, though.

I didn't hang with protesters much at the smaller arms expo held last year. I borrowed an exhibiter's pass and went for a look. It was just like the showbag alley at the Sydney, Melbourne or Adelaide shows... rows of vendors stalls, glossy posters and demo models, souvenir trinkets to take home. Inside the auditorium, ASIO's Paul O'Sullivan was telling us that terrorism was going to be a problem for years to come. Playing to the gallery, if you ask me. The official delegates’ dinner had as its entertainment Frank Sinatra and Sammy Davis Junior impersonators, high respect for local cultures. I suspect this year might be different.

In a city whose newspaper has ruled (mostly because of my meddling I think) that defence business would not be a factor in discussed war debate, publicity might be a little difficult. I've offered to help out where I can.

I like the way this group are thinking. They have one aim in mind, and they intend to achieve it.

superb organisation

Richard, the most net organised outfit in Australia is Getup.

Their printed material is, in my view, woeful. They are net/computer age kids. At one stage – general election I offered some help on print – apart from the distributing I did for them, we didn't even speak the same language!

Get somebody (young) to talk to them!

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