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Not our policy: Conroy rebuffs calls for boycott on Israeli defence industry

Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, the Honourable Pat Conroy MP talks during the Defence Connect Budget Summit 2024 at Parliament House, Canberra. Photo: LAC Adam Abela

Australian Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy has firmly rejected calls for a trade boycott in response to conflict between Hamas and Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza.

Australian Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy has firmly rejected calls for a trade boycott in response to conflict between Hamas and Israeli Defense Forces in Gaza.

The Minister for International Development and the Pacific, speaking to ABC Radio National on 10 June, said boycotting Jewish and Israeli businesses is not the policy of the Australian government.

Earlier this month, on 9 June, the Australian Greens called for a stronger response by national leadership to the conflict between Hamas and Israel.


The Greens statement alleged that Australia’s two-way arms trade with Israel are being used to create instability, fuel conflict or used in human rights violations. In addition, the party said weapons parts supplied by Australian industry to Israel are considered “not material” products.

“The Australian government does not have a policy of sanctioning Israeli businesses or boycotting Jewish businesses. That’s not the policy of the Australian government,” Minister Conroy said.

“There are two ways you can look at this from what the Greens are claiming. If they’re saying that we shouldn’t contract with Israeli or Jewish businesses, which is what they’re implying, they are calling for, effectively, a boycott of Israeli and Jewish businesses. That is not our policy.

“The other way of looking at this, if you follow their logic, is that we shouldn’t be contracting or have commercial relationships with businesses that supply the Israeli Defence Force. Firstly, responsibility for how weapons are used is the responsibility of the defence force in question, in this case, Israel. And secondly, does that mean, for example, Qantas and Virgin should be banned from buying 737s from Boeing, because Boeing has sold F15 fighter jets to Israel? Like this is a policy of boycotting Israeli businesses or boycotting businesses that may have supplied platforms to Israel when ultimate responsibility lies with the Israeli Defence Force. We are not supplying arms or ammunition to Israel.

“What we’ve been calling for is respect for the international rule of law, protection of civilians, and importantly, an end to these lies by the Greens, that we are supplying arms and ammunition to Israel. And we’ve seen false claims throughout this process.”

Australia currently maintains a significant military contract with Hanwha Defence Australia to build 129 Redback infantry fighting vehicles for the Australian Army under LAND 400 Phase 3.

Those vehicles will be fitted with advanced protection, fighting capabilities and sensors as part of turrets built by Israeli manufacturer Elbit Systems.

In addition, Minister Conroy confirmed there are “a few contracts” allocated by the Australian government to Elbit Systems for delivery of capability for the Australian Defence Force.

“We’ve got a few contracts with Elbit … Two examples are $9 million to maintain and repair thermal imaging equipment and another contract for some drones for the Australian Army,” he said.

“All those contracts are for equipment for the Australian Defence Force. We contract with Israeli companies, we contract with British companies, we contract with United States companies. The contracts with Israeli companies are for Australian Defence Force equipment.

“Due to the high intensity nature of this conflict and the complex circumstances we’ve been applying the existing export control system and since the conflict began, no permits have been approved except for items that have been returned to Australia.

“The only export permits that have been approved have been ones for Australian Defence Force and law enforcement equipment to go there. And that’s typically equipment that’s being repaired or upgraded for return to Australia. That’s been an active decision of the Defence Minister using the existing export control criteria.”

The Greens party, speaking in a statement released on 9 June, said Albanese government relies on secrecy and misrepresentation to muddy the waters and distract the public from its role in Gaza.

“At Senate Estimates this week, it was revealed that not only does Australia make parts in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter, but the fact that Israel using these weapons to bomb Gaza is considered ‘not material’ – basically does not matter – to whether the Albanese government approves a permit or not,” the statement said.

“Shockingly, the evidence provided made clear that it does not matter to this government if the weapons exported by Australia create instability, fuel conflict or are used in human rights violations, as this is simply ‘outweighed’ if the government deems it to be in the national interest to approve the export.

“This is how the Albanese government can approve military exports to Israel, including indirectly through third countries while maintaining they are complying with domestic law.

“During Senate Estimates questioning Defence revealed that there are currently 66 military export permits active for the State of Israel. These include goods being sent to Israeli manufacturers for repair and uplift, including weapons as part of the two-way arms trade, as well as dual-use goods and parts and components.

“Defence has still not told the public what is in these permits, however, there is clear public information that parts of weapons and military equipment are being exported to Israel from Australia.”

The Greens singled out production of Spike missile parts (Varley Rafael), F-35 aircraft munitions dropping mechanisms, Corvid-29 drone engines and military-grade steel.

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