Commission of Audit needs to acknowledge that defence investment has already been savagely cut

Investment in our national defence capabilities has already been cut savagely in recent years. In targeting Australia's structural budget deficit it is surely time to tackle spending in discretionary portfolio areas instead.


Letter to The Australian Financial Review
Wednesday, 23 October 2013
(published Friday, 25 October 2013

If the Commission of Audit is fair dinkum it will base any examination of defence spending on several facts.

  • Defence is the only major governmental responsibility that is wholly federal.
  • There are no votes in it.
  • Because of this, since 2008 national investment in defence has already been cut far more savagely than any other major area of government expenditure.
  • Our defence capabilities remain essential national infrastructure. Not somehow a discretionary matter in either financial or electoral terms.
  • We maintain such infrastructure to deter, shape or cope with general strategic risks over Australia’s long term.  Not specific “threats”, or their absence, as invariably perceived now incorrectly.
  • Our near-run 1999 experiences in East Timor resulted in increased investment until 2007, chiefly to cancel out all the sustained under-investment throughout the 1971-1999 period. We should not repeat such dangerous lessons yet again.

Cutting defence investment even further simply gambles with the security of future Australians who don’t get to vote now to stop such irresponsibility.


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