In the red corner (of course), former Senator Sam Dastyari writing in the Daily Telegraph that the Commonwealth Government’s recently announced $270 billion defence spend:
is a colossal amount of money being wasted on things we don’t need and will never use.
In the blue corner, ANU Professor of strategic studies Hugh White writes also, this time in the AFR, about this same $270 billion defence spend that it:
leaves the government’s new defence policy quite inadequate to the challenges ahead.
Let’s Get Ready to Rumble ….
According to Wikipedia:
Sam Dastyari is an:
Australian former politician, who from 2013 to 2018 represented New South Wales in the Australian Senate as a member of the Australian Labor Party. Dastyari was previously General Secretary of the New South Wales branch of the Labor Party. He was the first person of Iranian origin to sit in the Australian Parliament. As a Senator, Dastyari was the subject of a Chinese-related donations scandal, which eventually led to his resignation from the Senate on 25 January 2018.
Hugh White is a:
long-time defence and intelligence analyst, and author who has published works on military strategy and international relations. He was Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence in the Australian Department of Defence from 1995 until 2000 and was the inaugural Director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI).
No doubt the truth is somewhere between these two. Probably 98% closer to the White Side.
According to Dastyari:
If we are going to start funding everything with guns, let‘s at least give us a gun show we can all use by subsiding gym memberships.
Subsidised gym membership? Must be missing access to that parliament house gym or perhaps there is something deeper with the shallow Dastyari given his current employer.
It’s also not that expensive. The Government could set it at $500 a year. Call it the “Australian Government Fitness Subsidy”. Over 10 years that’s $5000 a person. Half the costs of a weapons programme announced today. The cost will be even less if you apply it under a “use it or lose it” basis. That is, if you aren’t averaging a visit to the gym, health club, pool, pilates or spin class every week – you can’t claim the money.
Yes. A well drilled troop of pilates aficionados, repleat in flouro lycra will defend Australia from foreign enemies. You know it makes sense.
White on the other hand posits the more relevant question asking:
(the government’s most recent defence review) assumes America has the strength and resolve to confront China effectively in Asia. It assumes the countries of the region will unite to support America in doing so. And it assumes that as a result China will be convinced or compelled to back off and abandon its ambitions.
And for the budget hawks, White points also this out:
For a start, it assumes we do not need to spend any more on defence. The $270 billion the review claimed would be spent to bolster our defences is almost all money that has already been committed. So the government expects that the 2 per cent of GDP that seemed enough in the benign 1990s will still be sufficient in the hard and dangerous years ahead.
This is absurd. In the Forward Defence years of the 1950s and 1960s we spent 3.5 to 4 per cent of GDP on defence – at a time when our GDP was as big as China’s and India’s. We will need to spend at least that in the decades to come, when the government now says we face the biggest risks since the 1940s.
It’s time. Not for Gough or Albo. It’s time Australia took its defence seriously and invested in a nuclear program. For energy and defence.