MAS Zengrange is a Lower Hutt-based manufacturer of mortar firing systems. The photo is from the 2017 Blockade of the Weapons Expo in Wellington at the Westpac Stadium

The reinstatement of the role of Minister of Disarmament & Arms Control is a good sign from the government. If this role is to mean anything, the first priority should be to end all governmental support for the weapons trade including the annual Weapons Expo.

The weapons trade exists to profit from war and human misery.

Over the past 10 years, the government has been involved in the weapons trade through a number of channels. This includes Callaghan Research and Development grants to global weapons dealers like Cubic Defence. It also includes support for the Defence Industry Association and significant participation in the annual Weapons Expo. This expo is an industry trade show sponsored by nuclear-weapons giant Lockheed Martin. Another channel of government involvement is the millions of dollars of Superfund investment in global weapons dealers.

Last month, New Zealand’s only military ally, Australia, announced that it would seek to become a top 10 global weapons manufacturer. This is a disturbing and bizarre economic development strategy. This is not the kind of development that is needed or wanted in Aotearoa New Zealand.

The new Minister for Disarmament & Arms Control needs to deliver on an ambitious agenda to demilitarise the country starting with getting rid of the local arms dealers. This is the kind of peace work we expect from the Rt. Hon Winston Peters, and the peace movement will be keeping the pressure on the weapons industry to shut it down for good.