FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday 22 February 2017, 0600
New STELaR Weapons Research Centre Site in Carlton Occupied for Second Day
Peace protectors are presently occupying the Carlton site of the future Lockheed Martin weapons research lab. The occupation began yesterday morning when protesters made their way into an empty building on the former Women’s Hospital site near the University of Melbourne. The site is planned to become the largest Lockheed Martin weapons research centre outside of the United States.
The protesters dropped large banners with peace slogans down the side of the building, camped overnight on the roof and have so far prevented construction from beginning. Construction workers arrived at midday yesterday but soon left the site without attempting to start the demolition of the building.
The weapons research centre will be known as the STELaR Lab (Space, Technology, Engineering and Research) and is a joint project of RMIT, the University of Melbourne, the Australian Department of Defense and Lockheed Martin (Australia). The Australian arm of Lockheed Martin is now headed by former opposition leader Kim ‘Bomber’ Beazley, who has expressed his passion for working with the United States weapons manufacturer.
Lockheed Martin has long been a target of peace activists around the world, who have protested the corporation’s design and manufacture of weapons and military hardware, such as the Hellfire missiles that are used in the current Syrian conflict.
Eli Jessup a spokesperson for the group said, “Whilst thousands of people are homeless across Australia, it’s outrageous that our government is giving money to large corporations like Lockheed Martin”.
“The government claims that funding the building of this lab is about job creation. We Peace Protectors say it is about preparation for war and that a better way for the government to create jobs is to invest in housing, healthcare and education”, Mr Jessup added.
“At the end of the day, handing billions of dollars over to Lockheed Martin, whether it’s at the University of Melbourne, or buying their expensive and dodgy F35 Joint Strike Fighter is a killer of jobs and growth. It is our taxes sucked straight out of the Australian community into the hands of Lockheed Martin one of the biggest profiteering US corporations.
The occupation coincides with the lead up to the Avalon Arms Fair and Airshow, where private contractors such as Lockheed Martin are expected to reap up to 100 billion dollars of government money.
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