Minister's push for Australia to become a major arms exporter criticised

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull with Minister for Defence Marise Payne and Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne at the ASC naval shipyard in Osborne Source: AAP

World Vision has questioned the Turnbull government's push to turn Australia into a major weapons manufacturer and exporter.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne is driving new initiatives to involve manufacturers and researchers in going beyond the domestic market to seize opportunities overseas.

World Vision Australia chief advocate Tim Costello said it came at a time when the government was cutting humanitarian aid.

"The government says this is an export and investment opportunity, but we would be exporting death and profiting from bloodshed," Mr Costello said in a statement. 

"Is that what we want Australia to be known for?"

He said the war in Syria, now in its seventh year, would not have lasted more than a year without armaments profiteering.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said he has his sights set on putting the nation on the map when it comes to building defence capabilities.

Australia had the capacity to export weapons such as targets, vessels and surveillance systems and some of that has already begun.

"My ambition is for us to enormously increase that capacity to send a lot more weapons overseas to appropriate countries," Mr Pyne told ABC radio on Monday.

But it won't happen "willy-nilly".

"I believe we can, over the course of the next few decades, create jobs and investment here in Australia by being a major weapons exporter."

Mr Pyne said the nation had to overcome a 'we can't do it here' response.

"We can do it here," he said, talking up the country's manufacturing and exporting talents.

Source AAP

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