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Top Guns

Disrupt Land Forces

This week’s show is about disrupting arms fairs. That’s right, the Land Forces weapons expo is on again in Brisbane at the start of October, and the community is mobilising again to disrupt it. I talk to organiser Margie Pestorius and to investigative journalist Michelle Fahy about the arms industry’s dirty links to government.

Playlist

Lowkey – Hand on your gun

Zelda Da – Jangan Bunuh Kami LagiAUS

Ryan Harvey -It’s bigger than a war

The Wild – We will drive these warlords out

August 19, 2022

Transcript

Margie Pestorius 

I’m Margie Pestorius, and I’m with the organization Wage Peace. And we’re looking at disrupting militarism in Australia, the rise of militarism, especially with the weapons corporations here,

Andy 

Yes. Well, quite topical talking about weapons corporations, because in Brisbane, in six weeks or so there will be a convergence of weapons corporations, called Land Forces. Can you tell us about it?

Margie Pestorius 

Well, it’s a massive weapons exhibition. And there’s a gathering of arms dealers; or people would-be arms dealers, there’s a lot of money around the arms dealers at the moment. So everybody gathers in Brisbane to sell what they’ve got, but mainly to try and get as much money out of the government as they can for either real projects or fake projects. So the money sloshing around, they all gather there in the Brisbane Convention Center. They make deals, it’s about 30 Billion a year at the moment that they’re transiting around themselves.

Andy 

$30 billion a year, quite a lot of money. And so, I mean, what kind of corporations are we talking about that gathering here, Land Forces,

Margie Pestorius 

The biggest weapons corporations in the world will be there. Many from the top 100. But definitely many from the top 20, Lockheed Martin, Raytheon, the big American ones, Boeing, Boeing has a special relationship with the Queensland Government, of course, but also the German company Rheinmetal, which also has a special relationship with the Queensland Government. And companies such as Tallis, the French weapons company, but they what happens is they get the money from the government and then they disperse it to smaller … to a set of smaller enterprises. So all of those small enterprises all wanting a bit of a cut of the cake, that will be there as well.

Andy 

They’re, you know, small Australian companies that get a contract doing a part of a job for Rheinmetal or BAE or Lockheed Martin or something.

Margie Pestorius 

That’s right, those big companies, they get the sort of overall tender for a new tank, a jet fighter or a ship. And then they then divided up into smaller companies actually, mostly they divided amongst themselves first. And then after they divided amongst themselves, they then divide it up into smaller and smaller companies. Another company that’s quite notable, I think, is NIOA, which is an Australian company, Brisbane based … its… it made it sort of …. it managed to grow itself quite rapidly by getting a tender for all the police guns in Australia for importing all the police guns in Australia. And now it’s sort of moving into the missile sort of arena, which is the fastest sort of booming area in Australia.

Andy 

Hopefully not for the cops, the missiles.

Margie Pestorius 

Well, I think no, I think they’ve they’re sort of they’ve moved … the cops were their jump up. They’re sort of, you know, how they grew their business. And now they’re moving into military, defense contracts.

Andy 

Okay, well, I mean, police guns has been a topic of its own in recent times, especially following the death of Kumanjayi Walker, and in Yuendumu; there’s talk about the use of police firearms. So I mean, that’s one way that weapons have come up in our discussions, public discussions about justice and freedom and things like that, but Um, I mean, overall, what are? Why should we resist something like the Land Forces conference?

Well, for starters, it’s a huge waste of money. There’s a lot of, there’s so much money, you have to have some corruption with that money. You see a normalization of militarism, you see a push to sort of normalize militarism across all social sectors, including schooling and education university, you get a push by the arms dealers to take over, you know, elements of the university, you know, the best paid positions at the moment at the universities, where you have weapons companies, engineering companies sort of moving in for high level technology. But really, and then you get the actual ethical issues of where they’re rolling out the actual violence, so that some of its for money on one hand, but on the other hand, they are rolling out violence. So they are anti cops, for example. But they’re also arming, for example, the Indonesian military. And you get, you get the sort of the the, the objects that are actually being used, such as the transport vehicles, tanks, attack helicopters, and small arms, a lot of small arms. So they’re moving company countries like Indonesia, or buying those from the corporations and corporations, or even the offices of the ministers in these in most of the states, that pushing these weapons, and buying getting huge tenders, huge contracts. And then they’re being used in a place like breast pump one, to actually take control of indigenous lands, dispossessed indigenous tribes, deforest those lands. So they’re the front, the military is in the front of the enforcement of the extraction, the colonial extraction. And so if we’re going to peel back colonial colonial colonization, and decolonize, we’re going to have to deal with this. This pointy edge of militarization, which enforces extraction, enforces land stealing, enforces the dispossession of First Nations people.

Andy 

Yeah, there’s sort of two entities and they one is the frontline and of the weapons industry, which is where the weapons get used and trying to keep that in attention, while people are talking about just trade show jargon about products and things like that bring attention to where the weapons are used. But there’s also the kind of back end of lack the political corruption, the personnel revolving door and the lobbying of the arms industry and things like that in Australian politics.

Margie Pestorius 

One of the ways I explained it, this is one of the only places where the money goes directly from government to contractor, because the government’s are the dealers, you know, they’re the deliberately Defense Department. So the money just comes straight in from, for example, the fossil fuel industry, where they do even though the center life tax, they didn’t get a lot of money out of the fossil fuel industry. And then that money then has to be used somewhere. So they, they pushed out through the arms industry. So that’s the sort of the money dealing the ridiculously large projects that don’t ever really start or never get in the way or have big failures, then those vehicles and objects don’t ever get used. For example, jet fighters haven’t been used since that 1950s. Last time, they’ll use early 1950s In Korea, but we’ve had a whole we’ve bought fleets, fleets of them, between the 1950s. And now they’ve never been used as jet fighters. So there’s these ridiculous probe programs from assist the transfer of large amounts of cash into the private arena. But as you said, we’ve also got these areas where the weapons do get used, but mostly they’re small arms, transporters, tanks, you know, military vehicles and attack helicopters, drones, getting used drones get used for surveillance and finding people and they get used themselves to drop bombs on people and target people, target missiles. So, you know, so we do have a group of people who are victimized, directly victimized, and mostly that’s First Nations people first, but also people standing up in their own countries for justice, as the civil resistance, you know, you know, in many of the Global South, are being targeted by their own states with these weapons,

Lowkey – Hand on your gun 

Andy 

You’re on the Paradigm Shift on 4 triple Zed, that song you just heard is lowkey with hand on your gun, though I’m coming to you courtesy of my wife Bek who put it on the other day, a topical one for what we’re talking about. With a shout out to a few of the biggest arms companies in that song and they will be in Brisbane, from the fourth to the sixth of October for Land Forces Weapons Expo. I’ve been speaking with Margie Pestorius about what land forces is and why people are getting together to disrupt it. Let’s go back to that.

Andy 

Back to land forces. It’s a convergence of 100 or more weapons industry companies in Brisbane at the convention center. Now last year it this happened and there was a big resistance to it organized by disrupt land forces, I guess do you want to talk talk a bit about what happened last year?

Margie Pestorius 

Yeah, well, we, our idea is to disrupt it enough so that they don’t come back, they don’t come back to this community. Hopefully, they won’t come back to any community. But we making sure they don’t come back to this community and not wanting to hear they’re not welcome. So there’s a sense that we’re going to make things unpleasant, and make them feel unwelcome. And we’re going to find different ways of doing that. But you know, that’s not that nice. So we also have to find ways that that keep us connected, and make sure that we’re having enough of a good time to keep doing it because we have to be really persistent. So we’ll get quite a few days before it starts, we’ll look at how we can disrupt the bumping (?) how we can disrupt the vehicles going in and the setup, the big tanks going in the trucks, food, all the stuff that goes into a big conference center, we’ll also be having a sort of almost like a festival of ideas, we want to tell the stories of Radical Brisbane, we think there’s not it’s not a surprise that this is happening. This sort of resistance is happening in Brisbane because Brisbane has such a strong history of, of radical resistance. And we’re drawing on that we’re drawing on the community of that we’re drawing on the memories of that and we want to tell those stories. We want to bring people together. We want to remember that this city was militarized Aboriginal people here were militarized. And we want you know, we want to tell those stories, but we want to tell them in a way that’s also disruptive. So we want to find ways of also making the people attending unwelcome and having a really horrible time. It’s smelly time, noisy time, the time where people just tell them you are not welcome in this town. So there’ll be a mixture of different sorts of tactics, we’ve got ‘unwelcome clowns’, u’nwelcoming clowns’, or we might have other people who actually tried to stop vehicles going in there the sort of things that we did last year, I imagine those sorts of things will pop up again next year.

Andy 

Some things are the same this year, I mean, it’s going to be in the same venue at the Convention Center. And I guess a lot of the companies will be the same. And a lot of the groups are getting together to be part of disrupt land forces, probably the same other are there things that will have changes between last year and this year?

Margie Pestorius 

Well, I think, be more international visitors, because the international borders are open. So they did have international visitors last year, but they, I guess is most of them came through the embassies. And people were travelling, rich people and government people were traveling. But my guess is we’ll have more visitors from overseas this year. You know, this, each of the states are buying each of the states trying to sell. So. And they do that both in partnership with the big corporations. So I think that that’s one thing, let’s see different. But you know, Andy what we’re wanting is, especially for the people of Brisbane to come down, it’s quite, it’s quite a long time, it’ll be over seven days that the conference itself was only three days, but we like to prepare, so that by the time we’re starting people are ready, they know what they’re doing they are connected and having fun, and then know what sort of things are going to suit them to participate in participating but creatively when people come down with creative arts and music, creative theater, sort of … we’re ordinary people just trying to take back space in the streets of South Brisbane and make sure that these South Brisbane streets are not taken up by the arms industry, for its ???

Andy 

The militarism and the weapons industry and the army, I guess, have a lot of propaganda on this side. Just look at the most popular movie this year is, you know about the Air Force and whatever. And of course, cultural and as well as advertising and things like that. But land forces, there’s not so much public discourse around it. Is it just the government and the industry? Do they try to keep it quiet? Or are they trying to promote to the public what’s going on there?

Margie Pestorius 

I reckon it’s there that people are just not looking at it. This is one of the amazing things about Australia is we we go through life without blinkers on and we don’t look at things that we find uncomfortable or difficult or that we don’t want to know about. I think it’s a bit like the climate crisis slump for a long time, people didn’t want to look at it because it was too painful to own up to what was going on. And then you get through that you get through that period. And then you’re like, Alright, let’s do something about it. I think we’ve got to be going through that period with the weapons industry for a while. And I know that for me to go and look at what was going on, it’s not hard to find, you just have to subscribe to a couple of military magazines. And they tell you every day, you get a media release every day about a deal that’s been done or contract being signed, it’s all in plain sight. Where are they putting that information? It’s not hard to find that I don’t think they’re hiding it. So yeah, it’s just, you know, specialist if you like, especially sort of information. So we’re look, we we want people to go and look and start to not be avoided and expose yourself and just notice what’s going on. Because it’s pretty, it’s can be a little frightening. But we’re finding we’re getting wins. I mean, even last week, there was a STEM Education and Defense conference in South Brisbane. And we put pressure on one of the presenters, which was, which was a, which is quite a large community organization that was presenting their on some work that it does drones, I won’t say the name of the organization, but they did pull out. And we found that you know, if people actually put them under the gaze and under a community gaze and so what are you doing with weapons corporations? What are you doing presenting at a conference that’s sponsored by weapons Corporation for weapons business? And, you know, they’ll pull out because they know it’s the wrong thing to be doing?

Andy 

All right, well, if people are interested in disrupt land forces, how can they find out more info and potentially get involved?

Margie Pestorius 

We have a terrific site at disrupt land forces.org We’re just saying how it is. That’s what we’re doing. We’re disrupting land forces, the weapons exhibition, disrupt land forces.org. You can go there and there’s a couple of different places you can sign up to participate. Come to our public meeting. We’ve got a public meeting on the 10th of September and it’s going to be a great public meeting, drawing connections to the history In this town Aboriginal history and the way surveillance, incarceration and militarization have continued to subject Aboriginal people over time and and the way that non First Nations people have been caught up in a sort of pretense about that so we need to it’s about sort of opening ourselves to these ideas and to come along to that and get to know us there’s lots of places that you can join you don’t have to be right down there in the thick of things we’ve got a great kitchen group we’ve got lots of crafting happening in music you know there’s there’ll be a place for you whatever you’re interested in

Andy 

Alright, thanks very much Margie.

Say no to war with China

“I don’t believe that China represents a military threat to Australia” – Associate Professor Marianne Hanson, Vice-Chair of ICAN Australia – the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear weapons.

When the sun scorched the earth, a child was being born in the mountain, in a cradle of hard stone that poisoned him.”Strike The Beast Hard by Ruben Galindo

Why go to war with China when you can buy a perfectly good bicycle from there for $100 and if you have $16 left over you can add a bike rack to carry your groceries home on.

Last Friday on International Human Rights Day, the independent and peaceful Australian Network (IPAN) organized a rally at Brisbane Square. One of the invited speakers was the former Attorney General and Environment Minister Mr Rod Welford who said that the new pact with the United States and the United Kingdom is ‘an election stunt‘.

The photos were taken by Lachlan Hurse and can be found at https://photos.app.goo.gl/ntcX7Fnukat7WBjCA

Let’s go now to the announcement of the new pact called AUKUS made by the Prime Minister, Scott Morrison.

Scott Morrison (Prime Minister): “Today I announce a new partnership, a new agreement that I describe as a forever partnership, a forever partnership for a new time between the oldest and most trusted friends, forever partnership that will enable Australia to protect our national security interests to keep Australians safe. But I’ve got to say my greatest thanks to my partners in this forever partnership, this AUKUS partnership, to President Joe Biden, and the Prime Minister Boris Johnson. I introduce them today as great friends of freedom and great friends of Australia. And they truly are. They understand what goes to the heart of our relationship, the security and defence of peace and freedom. That is what is always has sustained us.”

4PR – Voice of the People 

That was the Prime Minister of Australia speaking at a nuclear submarine / AUKUS Alliance press conference on the 16th of September 2021. So this podcast is going to summarize the response to that announcement and try to analyze what is going on with it. So let’s go now to the former Labor attorney General and Environment Minister in Queensland, Rod Wellford, when he’s speaking to a crowd on International Human Rights Day in Brisbane square last Friday, on the 10th of December,

Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General 

Friends, one year short of 50 years ago, on the second of December 1972, Australians elected a government that took the first tentative steps to building this nation to be a proud, peaceful and independent nation in the world. It was the essence of those three years of Whitlam government that brought us into a more international footing. We recognize China for the first time in our short history, the position that the Australian government has put us in is effectively to say that Australia should be on a war footing with China. It is an election stunt. And there’ll be plenty more election stunts like this, designed to play to the fears of the Australian people in the months ahead in the run up to next year’s Federal election. It’s our job, today, to encourage Australians, to help Australians see through that cynicism. And when they go to the ballot box next year. See that the only way to change Australia and to change the world towards a peaceful path is to re-establish Australia as an independent and a peaceful nation. And we will only do that if we change the government next year.

Australian Prime Minister Goff Whitlam sits down with Chaitman Mao in 1972

4PR – Voice of the People 

Mr. Welford, who was a minister in the Beattie and Bligh Labor governments in Queensland made no mention of successive Australian Labour government’s lack of independence from the United States. Labor governments’ willingly supported Indonesian invasion of East Timor. The Hawk Labor government supported Australian involvement in the first Gulf war against Iraq in 1991. And Labor supported for murderous war in Afghanistan where war crimes were committed and (finally) Labor’s opposition leader, Anthony Albanese, threw his support behind the AUKUS / submarine deal, saying ‘a close relationship with the US is among the three pillars of a labour government’s future foreign policy‘.

Does Mr. Wellford ‘s opposition to AUKUS and to the purchase of the nuclear submarines, does that place him at odds with his own party over the US Alliance and over the purchase of these attack class submarines?

Union Choir sings

“You are not my enemy these governments do not speak for me. And I am one just one of many who wish you well.”

4PR – Voice of the People 

That was the union choir singing at the anti-AUKUS and anti-nuclear sub rally last Friday. The next speaker was Kristen Perissinotto, the media officer of the electrical trades union, and she spoke about workers rights and conditions, the impact of war on climate, (impact) on First Nations people, and on refugees and people seeking asylum. Ms Perissinotto made a simple comparison of the cost of nuclear submarines, and that women’s safety, of refugees and creating jobs for workers. Let’s go to her now.

Kristin Perissinotto ETU 

So speaking, of course, I know the coalition are all about the economy. So I’ll speak their language, one nuclear submarine will cost $20 billion to build, estimated, and (its) estimated our entire cost will be $100 billion. So I thought it would be fun to compare that to some of the spendings that the LNP have committed to in the 2021 budget. And the first one, an issue close to my heart, is the spend on women’s safety. So this was Scott Morrison’s alleged women’s budget in 2021. And he’s putting aside $1.1 billion for women’s safety. That’s $86 per Australian woman. And it’s also 1%, or less than 1% of the entire cost of the estimate for all of our nuclear submarines.

Kristin Perissinotto ETU 

So the Liberals go on about how good they are for the economy, but they’ve only pledged $3 billion for new jobs. And I’m no economic expert, but I do know that people need a secure job in order to contribute meaningfully to the economy and continue to do so into eternity. So 3% of what we’re going to be spending on nuclear submarines will be spent on jobs.

Kristin Perissinotto ETU 

$0 was pledged for supporting refugees and people seeking asylum, although a shitload more was pledged for keeping them out of this country. Even though like I said, with Australia’s involvement in the Afghanistan war, and all of our partnerships across the world, we have a lot on our hands when it comes to some of those refugees, and yet nothing spent on supporting refugees and people seeking asylum. So obviously, that is 0% of the price the we’re going to be spending on nuclear submarines.

Kristin Perissinotto ETU 

And finally, the coalition’s investment in climate action, the LNP allocated $30 million for one renewable project in the Northern Territory, nothing for just transition to workers for workers, which is what something we desperately need nothing towards a clean recovery from COVID. And nothing towards a genuine effort to decarbonize. That is less than 0.1% of the cost of just one submarine spent on our climate.

4PR – Voice of the People 

That was Kristin Perissinotto from the electrical trade union speaking at the rally. Next up was a spokesperson from the International Campaign to Abolish nuclear weapons, Marianne Hanson, and she warned the rally last Friday against the acquisition of nuclear powered submarines.

Marianne Hanson (ICAN) 

Here’s one of the key problems. To date, no country which doesn’t have nuclear weapons, there are nine states that have nuclear weapons … apart from those states, no country in the world has been given this technology, nuclear powered submarines. We are therefore going to break this taboo. And if it does go ahead, this will set a very dangerous precedent.

4PR – Voice of the People 

Ms Hanson told the rally that other states are trying to copy Australia and get access to the nuclear submarine technology.

Marianne Hanson (ICAN) 

Already, we have other states in the world saying well if Australia is going to be given this technology and is permitted to go ahead and use what is highly enriched uranium in their submarines; now, the highly enriched uranium which will power the submarines is exactly the same material that is used in nuclear bombs. Uranium which has been enriched to 95 – 96%. It can be converted into weapons very, very quickly. And that’s the problem.

Marianne Hanson (ICAN) 

Already Iran has out as I say other states, South Korea, even Canada sought to have this kind of exemption and all these states have been denied. Suddenly, in AUKUS, Australia is given this technology or were promised to have this technology So there are big problems here, for our reputation and presenting a very, very risky precedent.

Marianne Hanson (ICAN) 

Now, the nine states that have these weapons have promised to eliminate them, but they are not living up to their promises. And that is why I can respond, the International Campaign to Abolish nuclear weapons … we managed to get a treaty in the United Nations. Our organization won the Nobel Peace Prize for its efforts. Of course, the government didn’t even bother to phone any of us to say congratulations.

4PR – Voice of the People 

After we marched across to Southbank, Marianne Hanson pointed out to the protesters that Q super, the Queensland superannuation fund for most of the public servants, is very much involved in the nuclear industry, and that people should write to that organization and say that it should divest from all of the nuclear companies that it is involved with. So that leaves us till the end of the rally, there was a resolution put to the rally that we should not support the purchase of the submarines and that we should be getting out of AUKUS, this AUKUS pact that the federal government is putting, and this is the response by the Department of Defense in regard of the concerns put forward by Ms. Marianne Hanson at the rally. And by her organization, ICAN.

Defence Dept Spokesperson 

AUKUS … offers great opportunities for defense to keep that capability edge in new and different ways, moving into the future. Prime Minister, in terms of the nuclear powered submarine venture, we will over the next 12 to 18 months, undertake that detailed work with US and UK partners. I know we we’ve been directed by government to absolutely maintain the highest standards of safety and security when it comes to the development of a nuclear capability …. that is important for the Australian people Prime Minister but it’s also important for our people who will operate these capabilities for decades to come. So I reassure you and the government and the Australian people of Defence’s absolute commitment to the highest international standards of nuclear safety and security.

4PR – Voice of the People 

Similar assurances were given when Malcolm Fraser and the Hawk governments both decided that Australia needed to have a uranium industry and to enter the nuclear fuel cycle. And of course, Australian uranium ended up in some meltdowns in both Chernobyl and Fukushima, despite all the assurances given at the time about the high standards of safety that would be  used. Finally, Janette McLeod put two resolutions to the rally. Jeanette McLeod is from the Women’s International League for Peace and Freedom. Here are the resolutions:

Janette McLeod WILPF 

So the first resolution that we’ll put today is around the Brisbane City Council. As people probably know, the Brisbane City Council has had for a long time, with a bit of a gap in the middle, a nuclear free zone policy. And that policy is still in existence. So that’s, that’s the first thing. And then the second thing is that even though there’s this in Brisbane, there is nothing at the state government level regarding being nuclear free, which is, you know, pretty absurd. So, let’s put up a show of hands to say, Brisbane City Council, please actually actively keep your pot nuclear free policy, make sure that it’s actually implemented. Let’s not let any nuclear subs sneak up the Brisbane River. And further the state government, could you introduce a nuclear free policy for the whole of Queensland because that’s what we need. So let’s have a show of hands. Great

4PR – Voice of the People 

So there we have it, an Australian government that’s hell bent on testing its relationship with biggest northern neighbor, China. Of course it takes some degree of insanity to  test that relationship when Australia is at the economic mercy of the Chinese government. Just about every major manufactured good that we acquire here in Australia is manufactured in China. And also so many of our natural resources are traded with China. And so to enter into a military confrontation over the South China Sea where, it would seem to me ,  the main objective of the Chinese is to have access to the shipping routes and the shipping lanes that it’s huge trade services. So to try to to prevent them from doing that by concocting some kind of relationship with Taiwan doesn’t really make much sense at all. So this is Ian Curr signing off from 4PR – voice of the People let’s go out with a song. This is PEGALE DURO AL FIERO or Strike the Beast Hard

Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others) 

Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others) 

Translated from the Spanish …. When the sun scorched the earth a child was being born in the mountain, in a cradle of hard stone that poisoned him. – Strike The Beast Hard Words and music: Ruben Galindo Original arrangement: Grupo Moncada

Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others) 

When the sun scorched the earth a child was being born in the mountain, in a cradle or hard stone that poisoned him.
He opened his eyes to the world and saw nothing but misery, he touched the cruellest inferno where the fire attacked him; he grew up among the brambles where the smoke was like grape-shot.
He rises up above the Andes with his warrior’s poncho seeking a path, a path that he desired, that he wanted as a child; he never complained about being American by blood, sowing his determination and with his hands pulling out the spur of evil.
Strike the beast hard because if you don’t it will leave you hunger; strike it because they’ll kill you and they’ll cover you with earth, sing your thousand songs and set out walking with your wounds, and together we’ll go to the forest to sing, then, to life.
They’ve given you very little bread for the sweat which you burned, you spent your whole life extracting riches for the beast; it’s not time for fear because the sun’s gone bad, the sky’s covered over with terror and the fire’s sputtering out.
Now you’ve found the road that the light gave to your life, raise the child who follows you and teach him to sing, teach him that man has a lot of struggling to do, put your cope over him and set him on the road to struggle, jump from the Andes and shout over the earth.

SPEAKERS

Scott Morrison (Prime Minister), Marianne Hanson (ICAN), Janette McLeod WILPF, Rod Welford – former Qld Attorney General, Kristin Perissinotto ETU, Union Choir, Frontera (Sue Monk, Sergio Aldunate, Lachlan Hurse and others), 4PR – Voice of the People, Defence Dept Spokesperson