Campaign to remove weapons advertisements at Canberra airport
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Campaign to remove weapons advertisements at Canberra airport

Advertisements at Canberra airport promoting military arms are offensive and should be removed, according to a community group.

It says ads by weapons manufacturers distort the image presented to visitors by the national capital.

No Airport Arms Ads says advertisements by weapons manufacturers at Canberra airport distort the image presented to visitors.

No Airport Arms Ads says advertisements by weapons manufacturers at Canberra airport distort the image presented to visitors.Credit:Rohan Thomson

The group, No Airport Arms Ads, will launch its campaign in Civic on Saturday, with speakers to include Bishop George Browning, Canberra citizen of the year Sue Salthouse and Australian Muslim Voice president Diana Abdel-Rahman.

The group's convener, Sue Wareham​,denies it is encouraging censorship. The group is not targeting arms ads in newspapers or on buses at this stage.

Dr Wareham, who is also active in the Medical Association for the Prevention of War, said the group had met airport executives several months ago to discuss the issue of advertising.

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"Weapons are in a totally different category from other commodities that are bought and sold, they cause untold human suffering and their promotion distracts us from more-peaceful means of addressing disputes," she said.

"It could be pretty offensive if you're a refugee or somebody who has been traumatised in a war zone, to be confronted with these ads."

The airport declined to comment on the issue on Monday.

Dr Wareham said in recent days the airport had removed some of the arms ads at the baggage carousel but had installed new ones on the ramp to the terminal.

"We regard it as inappropriate for one of the main gateways to the national capital to be having arms industry promotion in such prominent places," she said.

"They give the wrong image of our city ... we regard it as inappropriate to present Canberra in a way that looks like a military industrial hub.

"You get off the plane and you see fairly prominent signs promoting the manufacture of weapons which cause enormous damage throughout the world.

"One of the main objections is these advertisements help to normalise warfare and entrench the notion that warfare is part of our national life, it is something that Australia does, it is something we're preparing to do all the time, that's not the image we want to promote of our national capital.

"We're not promoting censorship but you'd have to ask, who are these ads directed at?

"Presumably, they're directed at the people who make decisions about the defence purchases for Australia, who are a tiny percentage of those who go through the airport, which makes one think that it's not really about trying to increase sales of the weapons by the ads themselves but they are directed at the rest of us, to think that these weapons make us more secure and that spending a lot on weapons makes us more secure.

"They also present a very sanitised image of what the weapons actually do ... basically they're about death and destruction."

Ross Peake is a senior reporter for The Canberra Times