Spoils of war? Weapons industry heavyweights wine and dine Defence top brass

Spoils of war? Weapons industry heavyweights wine and dine Defence top brass

Weapons industry heavyweights were among companies that lavished almost half a million dollars' worth of hospitality and gifts on Australian Defence executives and top military personnel.

Government records show sovereign nations, arms manufacturers and private businesses furnished Defence staff with about $490,000 worth of gifts, sponsorships and hospitality in the past four years.

Tickets to the cricket, cocktail parties, fine wine and watches were among the disclosures.

Tickets to the cricket, cocktail parties, fine wine and watches were among the disclosures.

Defence staff are required to register the acceptance or soliciting of gifts, hospitality and sponsorship. The information is kept in a central ledger, which is not published publicly but was made available under freedom of information law.

Six of the world's largest weapons manufacturers are listed on the register: Lockheed Martin, Boeing, Northrop Grumman, Airbus, Thales and BAE Systems.


Among the declarations on the register were $117,821 worth of gifts, received from 2014 to 2017.

These included a $14,500 invitation from cleaning company Spotless to attend Brisbane Broncos games, two $900 watches from the Jordanian air force, 12 bottles of wine valued at a total of $600 from consultancy Deloitte, a $200 painting from Lockheed Martin and a $185 heart-rate monitor from KPMG.

The Defence Department also logged more than $34,000 worth of hospitality.

Staff were wined and dined at about 184 events during the four years, including breakfasts, lunches, dinners, cocktail parties and at sporting matches.

Symphony performances and art gallery exhibitions were among the most popular events, while tickets to top cricket and rugby matches were also among the declarations.

The department's chief information officer group was the most popular recipient of hospitality: it made 74 declarations.

The capability acquisition and sustainment group – responsible for buying and maintaining military equipment and supplies – benefited from 32 invites, while the Defence Materiel Organisation recorded 21.

Notable declarations included a $710 lunch with representatives from Lockheed-Martin in 2015, a $400 networking dinner with the same company in 2017, a $200 dinner with Boeing and a $130 dinner with Northropp Grumman's chief executive in 2016, which was signed-off by then Defence secretary Dennis Richardson.

IT heavyweights Microsoft and IBM also featured prominently, as did the big four consulting firms KPMG, PWC, Deloitte and Ernst & Young.

KPMG provided $600 worth of hospitality to defence officials at the 2016 Australian Open, while Ernst & Young picked-up the bill for a $250 dinner at Canberra's Voices in the Forrest event in 2014.

The Defence Department refused to release the details of some meetings with industry representatives, citing the damage such information could do to the "international relations of the Commonwealth".

Details of a "finger-food" event with a Finnish organisation were redacted for this reason, as were the details of a lunch with an unnamed outfit from Peru, a "cocktail reception" with Swiss representatives, and a lunch with someone from Kenya.

Sponsorships accounted for the largest portion of the figure at $339,521. The largest single donation was from the RSL's Queensland branch, which gave a $70,000 sponsorship for resilience training for military personnel and their families.

Staff from joint health command received $165,297 in sponsorships, mostly to attend meetings and conferences across the globe.

The Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation – founded by the Microsoft boss to improve global healthcare and reduce poverty – flew a Defence malaria expert to two events at a cost of $13,181.

A Department of Defence spokeswoman said there were strict internal policies governing the acceptance of gifts and hospitality.


"The acceptance or provision of gifts, hospitality and sponsorship is subject to approval from senior Defence officials, and must be recorded on the Defence central register," she said.

"Any instance of confirmed non-compliance with Defence's policy may result in disciplinary action," she added.

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