The facts about defence investment levels

Many Australians misunderstand how little we actually spend on our defence, especially compared to other spending. Many also misunderstand that the very long timescales over which capital investment in modernising our defence force occurs needs to be consistent and sustained, rather than funded spasmodically. Finally, many ignore that the strategic security of generations of future Australians means us paying our fair share of this investment now.


Letter to The Australian 
Thursday, 20 August 2015
(not published)

Bernie McComb (Letters, August 19), commenting on other issues, oddly claims that defence expenditure is somehow “unlimited …. while everything else is cut”.

And that the “threat” does not justify defence investment anyway.

But, defence capabilities are essential national infrastructure to forestall or mitigate general strategic risk over many future decades — not what some might believe, or not, to be specific “threats” just now.

While defence investment did finally rise in the last budget it had been the only government responsibility viciously hammered in the preceding four. And the latter situation is common under most governments.

Contrary to Bernie’s claims, the $3-6bn annual investment in re-equipping the ADF has instead long been quite limited — and is around 4-6 weeks of national social security spending alone.

Moreover, at around 7-8% of (only) the federal budget, defence investment continues to be dwarfed by both the totals, and the rates of increase, in national spending on each of social security, health and education.

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