Pork Missile: Government fires cash at weapons-maker EOS in Battle for Eden-Monaro

by | Jul 3, 2020 | Government, Revolving Doors Featured

ACT remote weapons systems manufacturer, Electro Optic Systems Holdings, which has hitched its wagon to countries known to be engaged in gross violations of human rights and likely war crimes, wins big from the Coalition’s weapons announcement on eve of by-election, writes Michelle Fahy.

The Coalition Government’s announcement of the purchase of 251 more remote weapons systems manufactured by the Canberra and Queanbeyan-based Electro Optic Systems (EOS) Pty Ltd was a nice “announceable” on the eve of the crucial Eden-Monaro by-election and gave welcome media coverage to EOS.

EOS was in the headlines last year for a very different reason: it supplies the same weapon systems to Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates, two countries that are waging war in Yemen, and in the process creating the world’s worst humanitarian catastrophe, including the mass starvation of children.

The company has justified its exports (it exports 90-95% of its weapons systems) saying,

“Foreign sales significantly reduce the cost of development, acquisition and support for Australia for defence technology. This is the principal reason why Australian industry participates in international sales.”

EOS has denied its weapons are being used in Yemen by the Saudis and UAE. But that is not the point. The point is that this is a company willing to secure its financial future by doing business with countries the UN has said are known to be engaged in gross violations of human rights and likely also war crimes.

Handy little earner

But back to the by-election. In January, the government spent $50 million on 82 EOS remote weapons systems destined for the Boxer Combat Reconnaissance Vehicles. These numbers suggest that yesterday’s announcement of 251 more systems could cost in the vicinity of $150 million. A handy earner for a local weapons producer.

Following on from the government’s big defence announcement on Wednesday, at Thursday’s media event at EOS the government emphasised the defence industry jobs the contract would create for local industry. EOS has a production facility in Queanbeyan, and another nearby in Hume in the ACT.

The Prime Minister was at the media event, as was Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, head government arms buyer Tony Fraser and Liberal candidate Dr Fiona Kotvojs.

Mike Kelly

Weapons order brought forward

The chief executive of EOS, Ben Greene, was remarkably frank about the suddenness with which the government had brought forward the purchase. He referred to the order having been on the cards “at a later period” but then said the government had “very … intelligently, others would say kindly, and others would say far-sighted, brought forward” the purchase.

Still others might call it pork-barrelling on the eve of a crucial by-election — as we’ve seen in previous elections.  But Dr Greene was full of praise, thanking the Government for a very welcome and much-needed element of support for his company.

And it probably didn’t hurt EOS’s lobbying capacity to have former Army Chief Peter Leahy and former Air Force Chief Geoff Brown on its board … along with former Labor senator Kate Lundy.

 

UPDATE: Australian Defence Magazine published an article saying the new EOS contract is worth “almost $100 million”. As at 10 July 2020, no contract has appeared on the government’s Austender website. The article also noted, “The requirement had been identified by Defence and had not been allocated funding under the current planning model. Thanks to a push from government to maintain Australian supply chains during the COVID-19 pandemic, the program was funded in weeks rather than years.”

Geoff Brown

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Are Australians paying for secret US weapons tests at Woomera?

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Michelle Fahy

Michelle Fahy

Michelle has had a long career in writing and research, initially in the financial services sector producing plain language investor communications. For the last 10 years, she has been involved in research and campaigning for various organisations seeking to reduce warfare and militarism. An abiding interest has been the prevention of corruption via increased transparency and accountability. She is currently researching the links between current and former politicians, public servants and military personnel, and weapons-making corporations. You can contact Michelle by email: [email protected] and Twitter @FahyMichelle.

7 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Thanks, Michelle. Knew about EOS, but hadn’t twigged, to all this. The Australian system of pork is so delightfully bipartisan, inclusive and ecumenical. But it could be a while before anyone tops Morrison.

  2. Avatar

    how interesting – companies that make weapons that kill can seem to care little about human lives … ?

  3. Avatar

    This reminds me of Australian unionist Holding ships with supply to the British because the Russians at the time were allies of the nazis. Now the journalists wants to stop Australian companies to sell weapons also to our allies to fight their and our enemies!? (Yemen/Iran) I have a word for it!

  4. Avatar

    There is no limit to the amount of our money the Liberal Party will spend to retain power.

  5. Avatar

    Another warmonger, purveyor of death group only interested in money, and even more money.

    Ethics? Hah!

    It is bitterly ironic that if these “Defence Industries” world wide were closed down [no country excepted at all] the whole world economy would collapse – until all the worlds swords were turned to ploughshares – so to speak.

  6. Avatar

    In this context, it may be timely to remember one of Eisenhower’s final public remarks as US president:

    In the councils of government, we must guard against the acquisition of unwarranted influence, whether sought or unsought, by the military-industrial complex.

    Think also of the expansion of the War Memorial.
    Remember the notorious and obscenely hasty transfer of senior government people, both politicians and bureaucrats, to the arms manufacturers that Michael and his team have highlighted.
    Don’t forget the abominable submarine contract with the French.
    Read Brian Toohey on the ownership and control of assets like Pine Gap and North West Cape.
    Support Bernard Collaery: buy and read his book “Oil under Troubled Waters” on Australian dealings with East Timor over oil in the Timor Gap.

    Of course we do not need a federal ICAC!!

QED

Case for Federal ICAC

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