Defence investment: Dig in the right hole to tackle structural budget defecits

Leading economists continue to ignore that defence investment has already been cut savagely in recent years. Australia's structural budget deficit should be solved by instead tackling discretionary spending, not further cutting already insufficient investment in essential national infrastructure such as our national defence capabilities.


Letter to The Australian
Thursday, 19 December 2013
(published Friday, 20 December 2013

Your economics editor, David Uren calls for big cuts to defence investment but ignores that this has already been savagely cut over recent years (“If in a hole, best to stop digging”, 19/12).

Far more than any This has been far greater than any other major area of government spending in both absolute and percentage terms.

David also ignores that unlike health, education and social security, defence is wholly reliant on federal funding

Investing now, in Australia’s strategic security over the next half-century, is not a magic pudding to be plundered when times are or appear financially tough.

Defence capabilities are long-term and essential national infrastructure.

They require sustained investment, not wildly fluctuating attention driven by short-term political expediency.

Over the long term, thoughtless defence cuts undoubtedly cause marked inter-generational inequity and increased strategic risk for our children and grandchildren.

Cuts also mean eventual higher financial costs and economic damage when the inevitable catch-up defence investment is required — usually suddenly when a crisis catches us unprepared again.

Existing discretionary spending, such as corporate and middle-class welfare, should be targeted instead — even if the votes of the short-sighted might be at stake.

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