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‘We want Thales off campus!’: Students speak out on Eastern Avenue at Thales recruitment stall

The defence juggernaut's increased presence on campus is due to a recently-galvanised relationship with the University of Sydney.

A recruitment stall on Eastern Avenue, manned by representatives of weapons manufacturer Thales Australia, attracted a student speak-out at Eastern Avenue on Tuesday.

Delivering speeches to onlookers and passersby, students denounced Thales’ involvement with the University of Sydney and called for students and staff to oppose Australia’s military buildup in the face of potential war with China.

Jacob Starling expressed disgust at Thales’ presence on campus.

“[Universities are] being primed to play a crucial role in the build up of Australia’s military,” said Starling, “this month, Vice-Chancellors from the Group of Eight are travelling to Washington to collaborate and prepare to roll out the AUKUS plans in our tertiary education institutions.”

Warning against the University’s involvement in militarisation, Starling said “[we] need education that is based around students, staff and learning ways to help people, to improve learning, to make our lives better rather than to create weapons technology (…) it is a disgrace that the University is so tied up with Thales. It is a disgrace that University management wants to be complicit in slaughter.” 

Angus Dermody spoke about Australia’s increasing militarisation and how workers and students can resist, drawing a connection with the NTEU’s strike action which has been taking place recently on campus.

Dermody called for resistance to war with China, including the cessation of weapons development at universities involving arms manufacturing companies like Thales. Citing the AUKUS submarine deal, Dermody condemned ties between Thales and USyd.

“We need to oppose University management’s ties with arms manufacturers, their efforts in bolstering war in Ukraine, as well as the march to war with China that our Vice Chancellor wants to see universities play a role in.”

In a comment to Honi, Jordi Parodel explained the motive of the speak-out.

“We want Thales off campus, and Thales out of Ukraine. Thales is profiting hugely from the devastating war in Ukraine. Albanese’s Labor government is contributing to these profits by purchasing more of Thales’ weapons to send to Ukraine. The Labor government, along with other Western states, sees the war in Ukraine as a precursor to war with China over Taiwan. They want to send a message to China.”

Thales’ recruitment drive follows the University of Sydney’s renewal of its partnership with Thales in December of last year. The partnership facilitates Thales-directed research into high-tech weaponry and military systems on campus, and has drawn criticism over USyd Chancellor Belinda Hutchinson’s position as Chairperson of Thales Australia’s board.

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