Only cognitive dissonance, ignorance or polemics can explain invalid claims that defence investment somehow threatens people's pensions, healthcare or education. The accompanying false assumption that necessarily long-term focused defence investment can or should be substantially turned on and off, year by year, depending on the temporary economic circumstances (and subjective short-term wants) of individual voters, is just as dangerous. Both inter-generational equity (financially and with strategic security) and ADF operational efficiency are instead maximised by sustaining defence investment each year, even at a lower level over the long term, to insure Australia properly against general strategic security risk over the next half-century.
Letter to The Age
Wednesday, 30 April 2014
The cognitive dissonance encapsulated in Petty’s cartoon about the F-35 fighter project (April 28) unfortunately exemplifies a widespread and serious public policy development problem.
Defence, a wholly federal responsibility, comprises just over six per cent of the Commonwealth budget and has already been savagely and continually slashed over recent years. Hence its quarantining from further cuts.
But health, education and social security spending comprises over 60 per cent of the federal budget and has kept growing, well ahead of the inflation rate, for generations.
Moreover, overall spending nationally in these three areas is further boosted significantly by the states and territories
Another perspective is that, using 2014 dollars, long-term investment in purchasing and operating our updated fighter force will amortise out at around one billion a year over their 3-4 decade lifecycle.
Whereas national spending on social security alone will be at least one billion dollars every week of every year over the same period.
Finally, while no-one’s healthcare, pension or education is affected by the necessary maintenance of national defence infrastructure – except in the sense that it helps preserve them – adequate strategic security for our children and grandchildren is being risked, and inter-generational equity comprised, by the obvious budgetary imbalances being caused by ever-increasing spending elsewhere.
Particularly by us not investing our fair share, now, in Australia’s defence infrastructure for the next half-century.
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