NAAA - Why a No Airports Arms Advertising Campaign?

Canberra’s identity

When visitors first arrive at Canberra Airport, one of the main gateways to our nation’s capital, one of their first images is large display advertising at the baggage carousel for some of the world’s biggest weapons manufacturers, such as Raytheon, BAE, and ThyssenKrupp.

Prominent weapons industry promotion is inappropriate at one of the major gateways to our national capital. It is inappropriate for Canberrans returning home, inappropriate for families, inappropriate for visitors from other parts of Australia and inappropriate for international visitors. Canberra’s identity is not as a military-industrial hub, but as a beautiful city with unique cultural, historical and natural attractions.

Canberra Airport’s website reminds us of the words of travel author Pico Iyer: “Airports say a lot about a place because they are both a city’s business card and its handshake: they tell us what a community yearns to be as well as what it really is.” Preparations for warfare do not represent what most Canberrans yearn for. The weapons industry is not the essence of Canberra life.

Normalisation of warfare

Weapons systems are not a commodity to be traded like any other. They can and do cause catastrophic effects. They are not bought and sold by ordinary citizens. Why then advertise them to us? Are the subliminal messages that weapons equal security, and that war is a normal part of our national life ? Meanwhile, as Australia spends more on fighting wars, we are becoming less secure.

Arms ads are sanitised and bear no resemblance to the reality of what the advertised products enable. The capacity to wage war is sold in terms such as “leading edge products”, “systems integration”, “logistics support systems”, and “innovative capability solutions”.

Offensive?

The airport management say that they reject any ads that are “offensive”. Offensive to whom? Arms advertising might not be offensive to businessmen sitting in Brindabella Park, but to refugees and others from war zones they could appear very different. In June this year Canberra was declared a “Refugee welcome zone”. This is particularly difficult to reconcile with Austal’s proud claim and image of their vessels “Delivering Australia’s border patrol capability”.

Canberra Airport’s “green” credentials

Canberra Airport claims, with good reason, to be a national leader in the area of environmental management. However its “green” credentials are undermined by the prominent signage promoting an industry that is one of the greatest destroyers of the built and natural environments.Nuclear weapons Arms manufacturers at Canberra Airport (or their parent companies) are involved in nuclear weapons manufacture. Nuclear weapons are the single greatest threat to life on earth. There is a strong global campaign, involving civil society and governments, to ban these worst of all weapons of mass destruction. The promotion of companies that produce them is offensive.