Review: Christopher Pyne's Australian Military Sales Catalogue


BY DAN HOGAN

 

L

ooking for a public holiday read this Anzac Day but already finished the latest ALDI catalogue? Australian Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne, really really really really wants you to peep his brand spanking new catalogue of war machines.

At a tantalising 96 pages, the Australian Military Sales Catalogue presents a fierce literary nugget of alleged peacetime intrigue. The e-pamphlet is free to download in an ideal PDF format, perfect for any device. Australian Military Sales Catalogue can be read in one sitting with an estimated reading time of 120 minutes (including time for short breaks to unfocus your eyes and stare despondently at the palms of your hands, become lost in a vortex of existential dread, and experience spasmodic bursts of dissociative fugue).

Anzac Day is tomorrow. As is usual, the air is rife with misguided moral panic and irony while culture warriors ready their cheeks with fuel to mist the flames stoked by a naysaying unbeliever or wanderer away from the Gallipolised status quo. With less than 12 hours until dawn service and as politicians and staffers scurry to polish up their Anzac Day hootsuites, we too take a finger and thumb and pinch-to-zoom on Australia’s very own (and very bizarre) military-industrial complex - as presented by the Hon. Member for Sturt, Christopher Pyne.

Here is a totally normal video of a politician doing the totally normal thing of trying to sell arms to, well, as Chris puts it: “every defence minister in the world.”

And what’s the underlying impetus for the Australian Military Sales Catalogue? Jobs and growth, jobs and growth, mate.

Take a look.

Released in late March, Pyne seems to take elocution notes notes from The Price is Right-era Larry Emdur as he grins through a minute long sales pitch for washing machines and a cruise war machines. Flanked by a twitter avatar in which Pyne cuddles a puppy, he barrels through a list a of weapon-building contractors with the kind of polite cadence usually reserved for actors in commercials for funeral services.

Pyne flaps the catalogue in his right hand as his monologue is carried on the upbeat wings of an encouraging instrumental soundtrack; a short tune that blends the thrumming pulse of an electronic bass drum and distant yet optimistic guitar notes. Think Angels and Airwaves but without the nasally croon of Tom Delonge or the love songs of seminal post-rock outfit, Explosions in the Sky. To the Government’s credit, they have used the taxpayer’s dollar not only to build and export death robots but also achieved a sound design that is subtle and complementary of Pyne’s enthused delivery. The guitars are the last thing to fade; the heartbeat of the kick drum arresting just as Pyne caresses his audience with one final pitch and cheshire cat grin:

"So do yourself a favour and go out and get the Australian Military Sales Catalogue."

Fade to black.

  To remember or to forget: Pyne-ing over the military-industrial complex

To remember or to forget: Pyne-ing over the military-industrial complex

~Spoiler alert~

The contents page for the catalogue reads like a poetic ode to the golden age of of remotely orchestrated bloodshed. The reader skids into this accidental list poem right off the back of a foreword in which Pyne brags about the Bushwalker - an armoured vehicle whose main selling points include a high level of “survivability” and a diverse range of mission profiles.

 
 

Among military-grade sunglasses, warships, outdoor fridges, rocket launchers, war dog transporters, weaponised drones, ammunition, and fully-fitted military ambulance vehicles, the catalogue also boasts the T40. Sounding eerily referential to the T-series robots of the Terminator film franchise, the T40’s main selling point is “[increased] realism in live-fire training by mimicking human appearance, motion, and behaviours.”

Also you should know that the T40 looks like this:

 
T40.png
 

That hat. That body. That ~human~ appearance.

People pay their Anzac Day respects in myriad ways. Dawn service, two-up, donating money to veteran services, and so on. The Government is using the catalogue to sell war machines to any country keen to get their war on; or - as the Hon. Member for Sturt and Defence Minister, Christopher Pyne puts its:

“I want to see [the Australian Military Sales Catalogue] on the desk of every overseas defence minister.”

So however which way you are paying respects this Wednesday, do yourself a favour and remember Australia’s military-industrial complex is grinning all the way to the bank, lest we forget.

 
 

About the author

Dan Hogan is a writer and primary school teacher based in Sydney. They tweet @packetofchips

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