Calls to further slash defence investment ignore the facts

While 65 per cent of the federal budget is allocated to social security, health, education and defence (in that order), defence is only 8 of the 65 per cent, is the only one wholly funded federally, and the only one already subjected to deep cuts. Discretionary spending should be cut instead.


Letter to The Sunday Canberra Times
Sunday, 22 December 2013
(published Sunday, 29 December 2013)

In targeting the 65 per cent of the federal budget allocated to “welfare, health, education and defence” for cuts, Paul Malone (“pledging beyond means haunts PM”, December 22) ignores five salient points.

Defence investment is less than 8 per cent of the federal budget and under one-eighth of the 65 per cent.

Only defence is wholly funded federally. Total national spending in the other three areas is even greater than Paul’s figures.

Defence alone has already been savagely cut over recent years.

Defence capabilities are long-term and non-discretionary national infrastructure requiring sustained investment, rather than fluctuating attention driven by short-term political expediency.

Moreover, knee-jerk defence cuts cause marked inter-generational inequity, unnecessarily increased strategic risk for our children and grandchildren, and eventual higher financial costs and economic damage when the inevitable catch-up investment is required swiftly when a strategic crisis catches us unprepared again.

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

Investing responsibly now, in Australia’s strategic security over the next half-century, is not somehow a magic pudding for plunder when times are financially tough.


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