Media Release. Conflicting messages at Canberra airport, says new group. 31 August, 2015

A new Canberra community group says Canberra airport advertising sends conflicting messages to residents and visitors.

“Canberra is a Refugee Welcome Zone yet the walls of our airport carry advertisements for arms companies whose products have devastated countries that refugees have fled from”, said Dr Sue Wareham, convener of the No Airport Arms Ads (NAAA) campaign, which was launched in Civic on Saturday morning.  Diana Abdel-Rahman, President of Australian Muslim Voice, who also addressed the rally, suggested that weapons advertising could be replaced by messages of welcome for refugees.

Dr Wareham said, “There is another contradiction in that our airport prides itself on its green credentials, yet weapons destroy environments around the world. Most of the arms companies advertising at the airport  are also involved in the production of nuclear weapons, which pose a catastrophic environmental and humanitarian threat.”

“A further contradiction,” Dr Wareham said, “is that we Australians have traditionally prided ourselves on being a peaceful people, as demonstrated by the serious concerns in the community about recent military deployments, yet this advertising normalises the paraphernalia of conflict and destruction. The more we become accustomed to weapons as part of our daily lives, as we do mundane things like travel through airports, the more likely we are to accept them being used in our name.”

Canberra Citizen of the Year Sue Salthouse, who spoke at the launch, said, “Canberra Airport could showcase our region's tourist attractions, but instead visitors are greeted by decor more suited to an army base."  Ms Salthouse added, "The Canberra airport owners are leaders in our community; their philanthropy addresses disadvantage. I call on their leadership for a policy of ethical advertising at the airport." 

Bishop George Browning, former Anglican Bishop of Canberra and Gouburn, said at the launch that the promotion of armaments is part of a complex set of issues  that inhibit progress to a more peaceful world. If we make a difference here, we make progress on these larger issues.

NAAA intends to continue its campaign until Canberra airport agrees not to accept advertising from arms companies.