Peace group gears up for fo­rum protest

Horowhenua Chronicle - - NEWS - By MERANIA KARAURIA and JA­NINE BAALBERGEN

Peace Ac­tion Manawatu¯ is gear­ing up for peace­ful protest when the New Zealand De­fence In­dus­try As­so­ci­a­tion (NZDIA) holds its fo­rum at the end of Oc­to­ber.

Peace Ac­tion Manawatu¯ (PAM) says the NZDIA fo­rum is an arms expo and war ar­ma­ments will be on dis­play.

How­ever, NZDIA chair­man An­drew Ford says the or­gan­i­sa­tion and its mem­ber­ship is tired of be­ing on the hard end of the boot.

“There’s a huge mis­un­der­stand­ing by the pub­lic. NZIDA does not pur­chase arms and we do not pur­chase any prod­ucts for our mem­bers.”

NZDIA’s Ford con­tin­ued that there is no weapons or arms in­dus­try in New Zealand.

The NZDIA Fo­rum Prospec­tus has been de­liv­ered to par­ties via OIA re­quests to the Palmer­ston North City coun­cil.

NZDIA chief ex­ec­u­tive Jen­nie Vick­ers says the prospec­tus is the ba­sis on which in­dus­try makes a de­ci­sion as to whether it will ex­hibit or spon­sor.

Vick­ers con­tin­ued the prospec­tus ex­plains the theme for the fo­rum and the types of dis­cus­sions needed at the fo­rum be­tween in­dus­try and gov­ern­ment de­part­ments, to in­crease value for gov­ern­ment spend and bet­ter out­comes for New Zealan­ders.

Last week PAM spokesman Dr Fred Hirst said it was con­ve­nient NZDIA had not di­vulged the names of its cur­rent spon­sors­be­fore the event.

“No one can con­firm with cer­tainty they are the arms deal­ers/man­u­fac­tur­ers with­out ac­cess to the trade stands.

“It is also in­ter­est­ing that they are hav­ing four plat­inum spon­sors this year for the first time — ef­fec­tively four com­pa­nies that can claim the ti­tle to be­ing prin­ci­pal spon­sors.

“This is likely why the mayor said to Peter Wheeler at PNCC that Com­pass was the prin­ci­pal spon­sor, be­cause they pre­sum­ably will be one of the four. You can bet your bot­tom dol­lar that Lock­heed will still be there.

“We know Lock­heed Martin are rep­re­sented on the NZDIA board of di­rec­tors and go­ing for re-elec­tion on Oc­to­ber 31. Vot­ing re­sults will be an­nounced at their fo­rum din­ner.”

Ford said no one was com­ing to the NZDIA an­nual fo­rum in Palmer­ston North with a shop­ping cart look­ing to buy weapons sys­tems.

“In fact that sort of thing and any wheel­ing in deal­ing in arms is strictly pro­hib­ited within New Zealand by law.”

Mayor Grant Smith also re­sponded to PAM’s al­le­ga­tions that the fo­rum is an arms expo and should not be us­ing a coun­cil build­ing for its an­nual fo­rum.

“The NZDIA has been treated as no dif­fer­ent from other events.

“There are cur­rently three events a year that in­volves weapons, am­mu­ni­tion or an ac­tiv­ity that some per­sonal opin­ions may find ob­jec­tion­able.

“These events have never had any neg­a­tiv­ity and have been hosted at our venues for many years. It could be ar­gued that NZDIA has been sin­gled out which is not the pur­pose of pol­icy.”

Man­ager venues Palmer­ston North John Lynch sent a let­ter to Walde­grave St res­i­dents that ac­cess to the Cen­tral En­ergy Trust Arena will be re­stricted and an ap­proved traf­fic man­age­ment plan will be in place sur­round­ing the fa­cil­i­ties. On con­fir­ma­tion, res­i­dents will have un­re­stricted ac­cess to their prop­er­ties.

PAM says the plans are “il­le­gal, a vi­o­la­tion of rights and a re­stric­tion of free­dom of speech”.

“This weapons trade fair has been driven out of Welling­ton and Auck­land be­cause of wide op­po­si­tion to war prof­i­teer­ing. This is a des­per­ate at­tempt to shut down le­git­i­mate dis­sent and to court the weapons in­dus­try. Their right to pri­vately profit from weapons sales ap­par­ently trumps our demo­cratic rights to free­dom of speech, move­ment and peace­ful assem­bly,” Hirst said.

Ford says they re­spect ev­ery­one’s right to protest.

“Free­dom of speech also means we can go about our busi­ness. Frankly, in the last few years the protest­ing has be­come more hard­core and in your face. It is quite fright­en­ing.

“Last year I had a lady stand right in my face yelling at the top of her voice that I was killing her ba­bies. That is so far from the truth,” said Ford.

Ford is an ex-ser­vice­man who has done duty as a peace­keeper in Bosnia.

“I know what war and con­flict look like. That is not what our mem­bers are pro­mot­ing.”

Both Ford and Vick­ers say the New Zealand De­fence Force is in need of quite a bit to do its job in the world com­mu­nity.

They con­tin­ued that there are con­straints on what the Gov­ern­ment can say about its de­fence pur­chas­ing which is to do with in­ter­na­tional agree­ments and trade treaties.

“The law for­bids them from stat­ing

they want to buy New Zealand­made where pos­si­ble, so we need to find a way to get New Zealand busi­ness ac­cess to de­fence per­son­nel and gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials who are in charge of mak­ing these de­ci­sions,” Vick­ers said.

“We want to lift their pro­files and gen­er­ate re­la­tion­ships at the fo­rum.

“If the fo­rum didn’t hap­pen, New Zealand would still have to buy its sup­plies for de­fence and se­cu­rity. The fo­rum makes it pos­si­ble for lo­cal com­pa­nies to be part of this, rather than have all the money go over­seas.

“The fo­rum is way to cre­ate net­work­ing within New Zealand to see how more of our own de­fence dol­lars can be spent lo­cally.

“New Zealand does a lot of relief work as well as peace­keep­ing around the world and lo­cal com­pa­nies would like a slice of the money the coun­try spends on this. Our mem­bers are gen­uinely in­ter­ested in New Zealand de­fence.”

The NZDIA will plant a tree for each del­e­gate at Linton Army Camp, will hand out re­us­able con­fer­ence bags, not use pa­per cups and will bring in­ter­est­ing peo­ple to Palmer­ston North who wouldn’t come here other­wise. This in­cludes a Ger­man woman in­volved in as­tro­naut train­ing for the Euro­pean space pro­gramme.

She will spend some time at lo­cal schools talk­ing to stu­dents about space pro­grammes and

‘New

Zealand does a lot of relief work as well as peace­keep­ing around the world and lo­cal com­pa­nies would like a slice of the money the coun­try spends on this. Our mem­bers are gen­uinely in­ter­ested in New Zealand

’ de­fence.

be­ing an as­tro­naut.

“The pro­test­ers’ de­clared in­ten­tions make a large po­lice pres­ence nec­es­sary at the venue. In­side the sta­dium we take care of se­cu­rity our­selves but out­side on the street is a dif­fer­ent mat­ter.

“Po­lice in­volve­ment will cost us a lot of money and that could be much bet­ter spent on lo­cal pro­grammes, such as tree plant­ing.

“We also work with the RSA to help vet­er­ans back into work when they re­turn home from ac­tive duty. Se­cu­rity of the fo­rum venue is a ma­jor part of our bud­get,” Ford said.

“All our mem­bers do other things in busi­ness and any­thing to do with de­fence or se­cu­rity is a small com­po­nent of their work. One rea­son we are back in Palmer­ston North, where our fo­rum started 20 years ago, is be­cause this is a ma­jor de­fence force hub with many small and medium sup­pli­ers lo­cated in the area. This year’s venue makes it eas­ier for these com­pa­nies to at­tend the fo­rum.

“We can­not de­fend our­selves on our own if some­one at­tacks us and if we do our duty in the world oth­ers will come and help us when we need it,” said Ford.

“One ex­am­ple is the re­cent Kaik­oura earth­quake. Navy ves­sels from the USA (2), Canada, Aus­tralia and Ja­pan came to our aid im­me­di­ately.

“They can buy their sup­plies at home and ship them here, or we can cre­ate a sup­ply chain here and pro­vide what they need as well as jobs for our peo­ple.”

The an­nual fo­rum will at­tract New Zealand gov­ern­ment of­fi­cials, de­fence force per­son­nel as well as lo­cal sup­pli­ers and in­ter­na­tional part­ners.

Among other things, the fo­rum will be dis­cussing New Zealand’s own na­tional se­cu­rity pol­icy and out­comes as well as our global se­cu­rity chal­lenges.

They will talk about what na­tional se­cu­rity means for New Zealand, about ocean pa­trol and se­cu­rity in and around Antarc­tica.

— Jen­nie Vick­ers, NZDIA chief ex­ec­u­tive

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