Canberra Airport to be presented with petition criticising defence advertising
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Canberra Airport to be presented with petition criticising defence advertising

A community group will lodge a petition calling for the Canberra Airport to remove defence industry advertising on Wednesday, despite the airport's managing director refusing to do so.

The petition with 1560 signatures will be presented by members of the No Airport Arms Ads campaign, who have taken offence at material promoting military arms at the airport.

The No Airport Arms Ads campaign is petitioning for the removal of material promoting military arms at Canberra Airport.

The No Airport Arms Ads campaign is petitioning for the removal of material promoting military arms at Canberra Airport.Credit:Rohan Thomson

The group's spokesperson David Stephens said the campaign had met with airport management who did not consider the advertising material offensive.

"People who come from war zones might have very different views from airport executives on what is offensive," he said.

The petition said the advertising "gives the feel that one is entering a military-industrial complex that is preparing for war."

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The airport has accepted advertising from some of the world's largest defence companies including Raytheon, BAE, Lockheed Martin, and ThyssenKrupp.

Canberra Airport managing director Stephen Byron has argued the campaign is misguided and will do absolutely nothing to prevent wars and armed conflict around the globe.

In a comment piece published in the Canberra Times on Saturday, Mr Byron said the airport would continue to accept defence industry advertising

"As a fundamental principle of a democratic society, free speech should not become a casualty," he said.

The group's convener Sue Wareham has denied the petition is encouraging censorship. Ms Wareham is the vice-president of the Medical Association for Prevention of War and is also running as an ACT senate candidate for the Greens.

The petition claims the advertisements normalise warfare and military spending and present a sanitised image of what weapons do.

"They are inappropriate for refugees and others from war-torn countries, and inconsistent with Canberra's new status as a Refugee Welcome Zone," the petition said.

"They do not reflect the Canberra community or its many beautiful natural and cultural attractions."

Mr Byron described the campaign against the airport advertisements as unrealistic given the industry was a major employer and economic driver in Canberra and because it singled out the airport.