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You don’t create stability by engaging in an arms race

The Coalition places enormous emphasis, and invests eye-watering sums of money, on defence.

It should be asked, but never is by the me-too Labor Party or the lazy media, is this the best use of our resources, both physical and financial?

In May we were informed that “the Government will provide Defence with $32.3 billion in 2016-17 and $142.9 billion over the Forward Estimates.”

That’s a lot of money, but it is also the tip of the iceberg as it doesn’t include capital acquisitions – Pyne’s baby.

Over the past 12 months the Government spent around $13.1 billion on new hardware including 1,100 Hawkei protected vehicles and more than 1,000 trailers, 49 Pilatus PC-21 training aircraft and seven Flight Simulators, two additional Airbus KC-30A Multi-Role Tanker Transport aircraft to add to the existing fleet of five, four additional Boeing P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance and response aircraft, and new Austeyr EF88 rifles (the enhanced F88).

But it is the navy who reaped the most benefit from the election vote-buying.

“The Government’s naval shipbuilding strategy will invest around $90 billion in our naval capability and shipbuilding industry, creating more than 3,600 direct jobs and thousands more through the supply chain.”

That amounts to $25 million per direct job.

And as we are slowly finding out, supply chain jobs will largely be in other countries.

If you read the overseas press, French shipbuilder DCNS chief Hervé Guillou said the submarine deal would “create around 4,000 French jobs, benefiting shipyards and industrial sites in Lorient, Brest, Nantes and Cherbourg.”

An Australian submarine team will now set up an office at the DCNS submarine yard at Cherbourg in northern France to “finalise plans for the infrastructure that will be needed”.

The submarine contract alone is worth an estimated $50bn in the construction phase and a further $100bn over the vessels’ lifetime.

Christopher Pyne just signed a $500 million contract with DCNS so they can “get on with designing Australia’s new submarines.”

Say what? We just committed to spending $150 billion on something that hasn’t even been designed yet and we are going to give the successful bidder half a billion to come up with a design?

What the hell did we buy? An idea?

Defence company Lockheed Martin Australia has been awarded a $1.4 billion contract over the life of the submarines project to perform combat systems integration.

That means 200 jobs at the Lockheed Martin facility at Mawson Lakes in Adelaide. That amounts to only $7 million per job.

We will not see these submarines for decades and the government is already suggesting they will be outdated before they arrive.

“The first submarines likely to begin entering service in the early 2030s. Construction of the 12 new submarines will extend into the late 2040s to 2050 timeframe. The length of the construction process will mean that Australia will need to be planning the follow-on submarine well before the last new submarine enters service.”

It should be noted that China already has 70 submarines, five of them nuclear, and they just launched their newest nuclear-powered attack submarine code named 093B which has surprised analysts with the rapid strides China has made in design and development. This sub is much quieter and carries an assortment of weapons including the cruise missiles with a vertical launch capability.

It is ludicrous to think that our subs, designed today but not delivered for several decades, can even hope to keep up with the technology of the future. Compare 1975 to now and ponder what 2055 might look like.

Also of concern, detailed technical plans — totalling some 20,000 pages — which outlined in minute detail the capabilities of a Scorpene-class vessel purchased by India, were leaked from DCNS. The leak revealed crucial information, such as diving times, torpedo ranges, and above all noise profiles while operating underwater so China already has these supposedly secret specifications.

The Government has also announced First Pass Approval for both the $3 billion Offshore Patrol Vessel and the $35 billion Future Frigates projects which will no doubt continue to be used to patrol for Indonesian fishing vessels carrying a few refugees.

And of course there is the $24 billion set aside for Tony’s fleet of F-35 Joint Strike Fighters. Earlier this year, Michael Gilmore, the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation, said the plane would struggle mightily in a “dogfight”.

“The F-35B Block 2B aircraft is not capable of unsupported combat against any serious threat,” Mr Gilmore said, according to Aviation Week.

So why are we buying 72 of them?

We are not at war and are very unlikely to ever engage in a large scale conventional war again. You don’t create “stability in the region” by engaging in an arms race.

Imagine the good that just a fraction of this money could do both here and abroad, educating people and lifting them out of poverty, providing shelter and clean water, microfinancing small enterprises – all the things that could contribute to harmonious relations and social cohesion.

Imagine if the ADF was used for disaster relief, evacuations, search and rescue, humanitarian aid and rebuilding, peace-keeping, policing, emergency response to epidemics, skills training for our young people – all those things they are so very good at and that are crucial to our region.

Australia should keep right out of this posturing by the US and China – leave them to their pissing contest. The military are always going to ask for more money because the arms manufacturers are continually coming up with new weapons of destruction, big new toys for the boys to play with, because that is basically all most of this hardware is ever used for – war games.

What a waste!


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  1. Ricardo29

    The phrase ‘spending like drunken sailors’ comes to mind. So many poor decisions being made by our ignorant politicos led by the nose by the war mongerers.

  2. Steve Laing

    It is absurd, and pointlessly wasteful. What can we hope to achieve with this capability? To be able to bully Indonesia? Because against China it might buy us an extra 5 minutes.

  3. Harquebus

    If you ask John Kelly, he will tell you that paying for these items is not a problem.

  4. Kaye Lee

    One of the main goals of MMT is full employment. I doubt they would consider paying $25 million a job a wise investment.

  5. Harquebus

    Kaye Lee

    Again, I don’t want to hijack your article. I was just making a point.
    $25 million per job should not be a problem for sovereigns that issue their own currency.
    Of course, I know that this is bullshit but, some believe it.

    You have written a good and very informative article, again.
    Thank you.


  6. Klaus

    Well said Kaye. Unfortunately, the damage is done and more damage gets piled on top of this ridiculous war mongering, by the day. In the absence of a credible jobs strategy for Australia, war mongering has never failed to deliver.

    That military spending is absolute insanity and yes Kaye, you are right. As long as Labor embraces this crap, we will have it.

    A pity that Australians don’t go to ‘war’ against this government. A pity, that the MSM is silent on topics, absolutely vital for Australia.

    I see now, that 18C takes center stage. Why? Where is the burning urgency? What exactly does not work today?

    I also noted, that every morning in channel 9s today show, Trump rallies are shown? Why? Since last week, They get ecstatic over Trump rallies? What drives channel 9? I would understand the Australian or the Tele, but wasn’t aware about the bias of Channel 9. Anyway, my wife watches it, so I have to suffer through it.

  7. Kaye Lee

    I empathise Klaus. My husband reads the Telegraph (for the sport he assures me), watches Foxtel (for the sport once again), and listens to talk back radio (for the quiz so he says).

    The fact that we are still together after forty years shows that mixed marriages can work 🙂

  8. Klaus

    Wow, well done. I only have 32 years.

  9. Kaye Lee

    Six of those years were spent “living in sin” as the church and government force all gay people to do.

  10. Tracie

    Hi Kaye,

    What a fantastic article! Thank you for bringing up some very crucial points.

    I have some… ummmm… insider knowledge about the $32.3 billion. Much of it goes in contracts to corporations such as Transfield etc. Not as many are employed by the ADF as people think.

  11. Greg

    So the base question is; Can any level of defence spending be justified by a PERCEIVED threat of potential international aggression?

    I highlight “Perceived” because such a threat will never be a known quantity & is therefore useful to those justifying/promoting military expenditure.

    The threat of burgeoning population on this planets’ environment & capacity to support life is, however becoming increasingly better known/identified & is likely to pose a significantly greater threat worldwide than any likely level of military aggression.

    Sadly, I don’t see any level of environmental expenditure that will

    make a difference to our collective futures.

  12. townsvilleblog

    This is simply spending for the sake of spending, even when our 12 submarines are built they will be hopelessly outnumbered by 70 Chinese subs. Australia is not a super power, and it should be limiting it’s jets to far below the 72 that have been ordered.

  13. stephentardrew

    Another goodie Kaye. Spot on the money.

  14. Kronomex

    Australia is the little yappy dog that wants desperately to be part of the big dog club. It runs out in front and barks then scuttles back to hide behind the rest of the pack.
    If Rupert runs Trump rallies (ad nauseam) in his rags, and cable nutwork, then the rest of the main slease media feels obliged to mimic him in fear that they might be seen as lacking or biased.

  15. king1394

    Defence spending on extreme equipment allows Australia to participate in the wars that the USA thinks it needs to have to ensure its own energy security with fossil fuels. Australia’s presence in places like Iraq and Afghanistan has allowed the USA to claim ‘international’ support for their wars. We think that, in gratitude, the USA will embroil itself in any military invasion that we experience. This is how this military spending is supposed to save us from China, Indonesia etc.

  16. Kaye Lee

    ASPI calculated that the cost of defence (excluding funds for Defence Housing and superannuation and, of course, capital acquisitions) is almost $89 million per DAY.

    Incredibly, they begin their report by saying “funding growth has had to be deferred because Defence is unable to accommodate the boost.”

    “The last time a sustained increase in defence spending was attempted was following the 2000 White Paper. In the years that followed, spending was repeatedly deferred because the money simply couldn’t be spent. Between 2000 and 2008, Defence underspent its budget on four occasions and close to $1 billion worth of unspent funds (very quietly) accumulated in DMO’s intra-government account. Over the same period, net deferrals of capital investment reached $7.9 billion, with an average project delay in excess of 4 years.

    There are at least 33 projects planned for first- or second-pass approval next financial year, as well as 11 projects from the White Paper which were planned to be approved this financial year but weren’t. Whether it’s 33 or 44 projects slated for approval next year, the prospects aren’t good; the average number approved over the past decade has been less than 18 per year.

    Even at the best of times, the approval of 33 to 44 projects in a single year would be a daunting challenge, but Defence is currently mid-way through the ‘once in a generation’ reforms coming from the 2015 First Principles Review. The old Capability Development Group was disbanded, the old Defence Material Organisation has been disestablished and a new Capability and Sustainment Group has taken its place, with an entirely new top-level executive team.

    Amid the disruption, a new (military-led) contestability branch is being created to provide scrutiny of capability proposals—but it will be years before the embryonic function finds its feet. Even if these changes lead to better outcomes in the long term, the bedding down of new organisational arrangements and processes while managing the wave of new projects is laden with risk.

    … the new Integrated Investment Plan, in terms of information provided, is a dismal replacement for the old Defence Capability Plan.

    Ultimately, the priority to fund defence will depend on events. A clash in the South China Sea or a severe recession could tip the balance quickly in different directions. Quite apart from such external events, there’s a risk endogenous to Defence’s situation that could change things profoundly. Few things would encourage a government to abandon its commitment more than Defence being unable to spend the money it already has. As occurred following the 2000 White Paper, we could see a situation where falling confidence in Defence’s ability to spend results in large deferrals. ”

    Interestingly, the budget suggests, whilst throwing all this money at equipment, planned per capita employee expenditure will fall by 0.25% a year over the decade (and by 1.4% a year over the next four years).

  17. Anomander

    What a scandalous waste. The Chinese own so much of our country, they have no need whatsoever to invade – they will simply re-possess us.

    These sums of money are simply mind-blowing – with that amount of money at our disposal just imagine:

    – How many hospitals we could build.
    – The types of cutting-edge treatments we could research.
    – The levels of education we could provide.
    – The public transport infrastructure we could build.
    – The astounding technologies we could develop.
    – The huge number of jobs we could generate with directed funding from the government.
    – The support we could deliver for the severely disadvantaged.
    – The types of renewable energy we could be generating.
    – The investments we could make to protect our water, land and air quality.
    – The funding we could provide to our neighbours to lift them out of poverty
    – The improvements to our quality of life – for everyone, not just a select few.

    But never fear – when this feckless mob are finally thrown out on their ear, the “debt and deficit” mantra will resurface and it will all be Labor’s fault again.

    Why the feck aren’t the media doing their job and reporting all this wastage?

  18. Kaye Lee


    I think the media and the Labor party have drunk the Kool Aid that we must spend hundreds of billions on “national security” or we will be invaded by the Chinese or find ourselves under Sharia law., both of which are patently ridiculous propositions.

    Either that, or Labor are so fearful of being politically wedged, they have lost all ability/will for critical analysis, or even truth. It’s all about what the focus groups can be made to believe. That is why they employ so many young advisers who know all about social media and f*ck all about anything else. I have lost respect for the lot of them.

  19. 2Bob

    Why,why, why!
    Because Murdoch wants 18c removed so he can do his FoxNews thing on his new Sky TV.

    Because Murdoch is backing Trump.

    Because the politicians are easy marks for smart military lobbyists we get obsolete subs.
    This is only because they couldnt sell them the giant battleship and Zeppelin fleet left over from WW1-2.

    What offensive activity can we do with the 6 working oil driven subs against the huge numbers of Chinese, Russian, Japanese etc etc.
    NOTHING except Survelance, spy Vs spy!

    We could have home developed and built Drone subs for survelance.They could be left to roam at large or left static and only return to a mother ship as required.

    For defence the drones could be deployed as sacrificial limpet mines or torpedos.

    Our own scientists, our own technical experts, our own industry, our own home economy

    Wake up Australia, you have nothing more to lose, the politicians are already giving it away!

  20. nurses1968

    Kaye Lee,you preach on about fact then this ” think the media and the Labor party have drunk the Kool Aid that we must spend hundreds of billions on “national security” or we will be invaded by the Chinese or find ourselves under Sharia law.”
    Where did Labor say that
    “That is why they employ so many young advisers who know all about social media and f*ck all about anything else. I have lost respect for the lot of them.That is why they employ so many young advisers who know all about social media and f*ck all about anything else. I have lost respect for the lot of them.”
    Finally the veil has dropped and the true Kaye Lee can now step forward and drop the pretence

  21. Kaye Lee


    Or we could actually help our neighbours so we all learned to trust each other and have no need to waste enormous resources on spying on each other. Those drone submarines could be used for research to learn more about our oceans.

    Why are we all in constant competition instead of collaboration? Global corporations have combined resources to transcend borders and take power. The scientific community are also able to transcend borders until commercial interests intrude wanting to profit from patents or the burying of same. Governments are making themselves irrelevant puppets who are told what to do by lobbyists. Even those few politicians with a modicum of intelligence are unable to sway the constant toadying in pursuit of votes. Leadership in government is non-existent – they are dragged around by their donors and pollsters.

  22. Kaye Lee


    I would like to understand what has happened in your life to make you this suspicious. I hide behind no veil about my opinions which are not dictated by anyone else’s annual conference or speaking points issued by advertising gurus. I want to learn, I want to keep gathering information to advise and change my opinion. I am not constrained by having to agree with anyone else and no-one else is obliged to follow my opinion. I want genuine debate – I want to understand the pros and cons that I may not have thought of. Do you have a comment on the topic, which is important, or just me, who is not?

    BILL SHORTEN: I have to say that, when it comes to national security, we’re going to respect whatever briefings have been provided to my predecessors…..If the Government wants the help of the Labor Party in whatever form, we are ready to assist the Government.

  23. Percy

    Kaye its alright to question this spending but the Fact is of he 8 subs we already have only 3 to 4 max are in use due to lack of manning .
    Maybe we could use Chinese Submariners on 457 visas to man the rest.. LMFAO

  24. Kaye Lee

    Percy, yes I have read that before. Our current subs sit idle because of lack of staff and we want to double the number? I am sure you could get Dutton, Cash and Pyne to agree to your 457 visa idea – they have shown themselves to be that dumb.

    This government is thrilled to spend $150 billion on largely French built submarines but eschewed $45 billion on a national FttP broadband network as profligate waste.

  25. Phil

    Yes Kay, it is indeed a waste and thank you for the research and summary – it is by any standard a massive theft from the Australian people and it shows that the government is not in charge of the country. This article suggests just who is in charge.

  26. jimhaz

    For me I have always thought that a Defence Future Fund idea would be much better during these relatively peaceful times in our region.

    ie no expansion whatsoever and even some cuts until the level of danger increases. There are always lead ups to the war games of the nut crowd of political leaders.

    In terms of supply – we could build these things ourselves should the need arise. Invention is hard, copying is not. Of the 100b we will end up paying the French by the time of completion – up to 50% would be a form of payment for technology patents mostly hidden in the pricing.

    Every now and then i feel the western world is going to rid themselves of the debt issue via warmongering activities.

  27. Bob E Johnson

    Kaye Lee, I agree that the most sane, immediate and most useful case for drone submersibles would be for scientific investigation of our seas and the strategic military use ready if required.
    Australian science, our future technology skills, and our at present under utilised scientific and inventive workforce would benefit immediately instead of overseas companies selling us obsolete oil fired “Intellectual Property”.
    We cannot rely on the current political fossils like Turnbull or Shorten to peer past their fogged 3 year focused,coal driven, hind-sighted lobbyists.

  28. Kaye Lee

    Instead we are paying hundreds of millions for Dutch drones to search for a Malaysian aircraft full of Chinese citizens that was lost years ago. Such is our government’s skewed toadying proclivities and priorities.

  29. Andreas Bimba

    The big ticket items like the new French submarines are ridiculously expensive. I originally thought based on the sparse information last year it would cost $20 billion to build 12 and a total of $50 billion to operate and update over their lifetimes. Even then the per unit cost was more than double the per unit inflation adjusted cost of our current excellent Collins class submarines. Now it looks like the build cost is about 5 times the Collins class in inflation adjusted terms. This does look like incredible waste or even fraud to me.

    The comments denigrating the F35 are however predominately nonsense, the stealth characteristics and other state of the art systems make it a particularly potent weapon. The per unit cost although high is not unrealistic. The RAAF should consider retaining the F18 for longer as a cheaper complimentary aircraft.

    This article by Kaye is 90% beat up as defence spending as far as I am aware will stay around 2% of GDP which given the current very dangerous geostrategic outlook with China, Russia, militant Islam and a chaotic U.S. is not unreasonable. I agree however that too much money is being wasted on the big ticket items. Greater self sufficiency in the military sphere should be a goal.

    The rest of the problems with our very sick nation such as tackling global warming, unemployment, economic stagnation, wealth inequity and environmental destruction should also be prioritised at this time over foreign defence aquisitions.

  30. Kaye Lee

    You may be in a position to know better than the Pentagon’s director of operational test and evaluation about the jets Andreas. I most definitely am not. But I would question exactly what you think these jets, if we ever get them, are going to do. This is strike force capability – who are we going to strike? We sent six planes to fight IS. And I would suggest any notion that we would attack, or could defend ourselves from an attack by China, are not realistic. Why would China invade a country they are investing in? Why bomb us when you can buy us? And I don’t think we seriously rate on Russia’s radar.

    Why should defence spending be tied to GDP? Why keep them giving them so much money they can’t spend it? The whole world should stop this fixation with weapons. It’s ridiculous.

    I am also not sure what you mean by “beat up” because all figures come from the government’s own documents. Spending is not 2% yet partly being held back because they couldn’t spend all the money thrown at them over the last three years.

  31. totaram

    Kaye Lee November 7, 2016 at 7:34 pm:

    I agree completely, with your analysis. The crucial thing about defence spending is that it just increases our import expenditure. If something can be built in Australia, well and good – even it turns out “more expensive”. It employs local people and builds skills. A simple item like the assault rifle is a case in point. The ADF uses the Austrian Steyr which is manufactured under licence in Australia. However, every time you see photographs of other para-military organisations, you see them toting US manufactured assault rifle like AR-15s. Why is that? Wouldn’t it make for uniformity of weapons and ammunition and supply and organisation, if all these units used the same weapon? I suspect, there is a lot lobbying, profiteering, and cronyism going on here, to benefit the US arms manufacturers, who have no compunction about turning their own country into a killing field with their products.

    There is no reason that defence spending should be tied to GDP. Where is the logic in that? Does any country do that?

  32. Matters Not

    The big ticket items like the new French submarines are ridiculously expensive.

    Indeed they are.

    In terms of the acquisition costs budgeted by Defence, $4.6 billion represents an eye-watering price for a SSK. A nuclear-powered Barracuda costs less than half this in France. A very large Virginia class SSN currently costs $3.6 billion in the US. Most SSKs cost less than $1 billion. …

    Overall, the risks involved in the DCNS proposal are so high as to be unacceptable, particularly in light of the costs involved. A senior Defence official is quoted as saying “If you asked someone to devise a new submarine program with the highest risk factors at every stage, you could not have done a much better job. It will almost certainly end in tears and possibly a catastrophe”.

    Fortunately, it is not too late to change course. To date, the only agreement with DCNS is for the development of a detailed design. The solution is to keep the competitive process alive by extending the CEP and resuscitating the other proposals. As Hugh White has said, “what we need is a competitive Project Development Study phase, in which two or more contenders develop detailed designs and provide tender-quality prices on which a fixed price contract can be based. That is standard in this kind of project, or used to be.” As well as proposing a tender price for building them overseas, each contender would also be required to provide a detailed plan for building the submarines in Adelaide under a fixed price contract.

    The French submarine boondoggle

    One wonders what the hidden agenda is. Nuclear powered subs for Australia? On the surface at least, we bought a very expensive pup. The French celebrated with champagne.

    But note also we only have an agreement for the development of a detailed design.

  33. Jason

    Harquebus, France will utilise real resources building these subs and the USA on planes all for a credit of AUD to their accounts so it is correct that we can purchase these but it’s an incredible waste of money and our resources to man them, maintain them etc. Those resources could be better utilised for other uses but defence is always considered unquestionable by the liberals.

    MMT doesn’t change this fact but instead makes it clear that money can be spent on much more useful things for our country like Gonski education and healthcare etc.

    Is our government going to run out of its own currency? Ofcourse not but if it doesn’t invest in the country for the future then we can have real issues. Again what do you disagree with other than your household budget nonsense that isn’t the same for our government? The real limits to spending are real resources and people willing to give us things for our currency. That’s the reality, think it through logically.

  34. totaram

    Harquebus is no more interested in thinking things through logically than Senator Malcolm Roberts. Engaging with such people is a complete waste of time and energy. He is also really no different to Neil of Sydney. It is a real eye opener to many of us that such persons exist. But that is the sad state of the human race. I suspect we have created our own demise, mainly through devising a society based on science and technology that no one can really understand completely. This opens the flood gates for any number of misinformers, snake oil merchants, delusion panderers, confused persons, etc. And all these persons (quite rightly in my view, because they are as much in the same boat as any of us) get to vote! Do I have a solution? NO.

  35. Harquebus

    Jason and totaram
    Energy is what is required. Cheap and abundant energy.
    Good luck finding it. No amount of fiat can beat it.
    It could be that once built, these things will lay idle for lack of it.

  36. Andreas Bimba

    Kaye I have read quite a few articles on the F35 and there is definitely not unanimity that this aircraft is a failure. Most criticism is regarding delays and cost over runs. Hardly unexpected with such complex projects that push the envelope in all areas and the fact that the aircraft has three very different variants.

    Other criticism is that the aircraft is not as agile as the F16. Well almost no aircraft is as agile as the F16 in what they call dog fights. The whole point of stealth and the modern sensors in the F35 is that it fires its missiles at long or medium range without being noticed until it is too late.

    The term strike aircraft doesn’t mean very much. The F35 like our current F18 are multi-role air to air and ground attack jet fighters.

    On China, if we can’t defend ourselves militarily as you say then give them the keys and emigrate? Does Vietnam have such a defeatist attitude regarding China? What about little Taiwan? To invade a country like Australia is not easy especially if other nations like the U.S. do their utmost to make things difficult. Very large forces need to be moved by sea and air which in the era of missiles is very risky.

    We like all nations invest in defence to make the price of invasion too high. 2% of GDP is not too high a price in my opinion especially if nearly all is spent locally. I know I’m sounding like a typical conservative but my philosophy is similar to the Scandinavian approach where both the left and right support national defence expenditure and Russia is known as the perpetual invader and is feared with good reason.

    I’m not a pacifist nor am I a unilateral disarmament advocate like most of the progressive left apparently. Negotiate with China and Russia for arms reductions by all means but weakness encourages nasty surprises as Ukraine found out.

    Regarding Russia, war very nearly broke out between Russia and NATO following the Crimean peninsula invasion and more adventures by Putin are realistic possibilities. War between Russia and the U.S. is possible in Syria. War between China and the U.S. in the South China sea or over the Japanese Senkaku islands is also possible. North Korea is also a hot spot. Global warming, overpopulation, wealth disparity, poverty, extremism and greed are adding to the uncertainty. WE ARE LIVING IN DANGEROUS TIMES.

    Tying defence spending to GDP may be arbitrary but NATO has a current recommendation of 2% of GDP for defence which only a few members currently meet. Russia spends about 5.4% of GDP, China 1.9% and the U.S. 3.3% on defence.

    The beat up comment is on the way you presented the article, one would conclude defence spending was skyrocketing which it isn’t really but I agree that waste and poor value for money must be addressed.

  37. Jason

    Harquebus, tesla already has the solution recently announced: renewables are viable now we just need the political will and stop subsidising fossil fuels. Check out the clip.

  38. Kaye Lee

    So you seriously believe that China wants to invade us? At least Darwin will be safe this time since they own the port. Will they avoid destroying our energy grids and farms that they have bought? I think you are grossly mistaken to compare the threat to our island continent with that posed by Russia to countries with whom it shares a border. I note you say that war between lots of people is likely…none of them were us.

    ” one would conclude defence spending was skyrocketing which it isn’t really ”

    Defence spending per the White Paper is planned to grow from $32.4 billion in 2016-17 to $47.2 billion in 2025 (measured in 2016-17 $); an increase of $14.8 billion over the decade, representing 4.3% annual compounding growth. In contrast, over the past eight years, the net increase in defence spending was only $3.2 billion, representing 1.5% growth. And although the percentage rate of increase for the period 2000 to 2009 was higher at 5.3% per year, the absolute increase will be greater this time; $14.8 billion versus $10.7 billion.

    Spending as a % of GDP fell this year ONLY because they couldn’t spend all the money in time.

  39. Andreas Bimba

    Kaye you and others brought up the defeatist line that defence against China was impossible. I have always opposed privatisations of infrastructure and especially ownership by Chinese interests.

    Do you seriously think a war between NATO and Russia or the other possible wars will not seriously endanger Australia? Is Europe too far away in the 21st century? As I said dangerous times and our government needs military options not just nice sounding words. By all means we as a nation must not provoke war and should strive to limit any involvement but wishing the danger away unfortunately doesn’t work.

    Diplomacy is more effective when it is backed by something more tangible than a few raw recruits with rifles hurriedly thrown together at the final hour.

    Defence spending reaches 2% of GDP in 2020 and 2.2% in 2023 from your link.

  40. Kaye Lee


    To think we are any form of a significant military power is delusional – sorry, but it’s a fact. I am not being defeatist at all in saying defence against China is impossible. I am saying why the hell would they or us even consider military conflict. It ain’t gonna happen unless we mindlessly follow the US which still wouldn’t save us if China seriously wanted to take us over. The world has moved on from the type of war where jets and submarines can be game changers. Cyber warfare is a far more real and present danger that great big boats and a few jets can’t protect us from.

  41. Matters Not

    brought up the defeatist line that defence against China was impossible.

    Not quite. Any ‘dealing(s)’ with China has a variety of possible options. The notion that we could ever hope to defend against their military might in the advent of a serious aggression is fanciful. That we might engage in diplomatic initiatives well before any incidents seems the clear preventative route. Perhaps the better option?

  42. Andreas Bimba

    Australia just needs to have enough of a military to make invasion not worth the cost which is called deterrence. NATO for example mostly comprises small or medium powers but collectively can deter much larger military powers like Russia. Defence against China is not impossible by collective action, such thinking is defeatist.

    That’s another common red herring, as long as we have a military we will mindlessly follow the U.S. Then following that logic if we have no military we will be independent and safe? Wise political control remains essential. The U.S. also needs to improve its behaviour and many are working on this.

    China may trigger military conflict because they want and occupy other nations territory for example in the South China sea. This type of thing starts wars. They are still a Communist state and have had wars with Tibet, India, Russia, South Korea, the U.S., Vietnam and Taiwan.

    Cyber war is trivia compared to military conflict. If Wall Street has all its computers scrambled I will be happy indeed.

  43. Kaye Lee

    So the commitment to have 12 outdated submarines by 2055 and 72 dud fighter jets whenever they work out how to stop the ejection seat from breaking the pilot’s neck should make China think twice about an invasion they would never contemplate anyway?

    What we are doing is deliberately poking the tiger by conducting endless war games in the South China Sea. Is that how you “deter” conflict? It seems to me our deterrers are the ones a long way from home who may eventually provoke a response.

    I don’t buy this deterrence argument propagated by arms manufacturers. I reckon they would be less likely to be angry with us if we helped them rather than “deterred” them with drive bys.

  44. Andreas Bimba

    OK, I will reverse track. Nice tiger you can have the South China sea and the Senkaku islands as they are far away. Nice Mr Putin you can have the east of Ukraine as we don’t want war.

    Oh that was nasty taking Taiwan like that, don’t do that again. Yes Ukraine really is part of Russia, get used to it you fascists. The Baltic States, where were they again? Not worth worrying about. War with Poland, now that is too far. Japan just sunk half a dozen of the tigers ships over some islands. Are those ballistic missiles being launched?

    Fatalistic acceptance of the expansion of predatory powers will most likely lead to even deeper problems later. Balance of power is more likely to avoid armed conflict. It worked through the cold war. This is the military part of the equation. The diplomatic and commercial parts are still the main game.

  45. mark

    150,000,000,000 dollars of paranoia.mark

  46. Kyran

    The disparity between the 2013 DWP and the 2016 DWP is quite remarkable.
    The 2013 paper advocated ‘diplomacy’ and ‘regional assistance’ as being major components of defence strategy. The preamble reads as much as a re-assessment of foreign policy, as a statement of defence policy.

    The major criticism of that paper was that it was taking funds away from defence and reallocating them to other programs, in the belief the reassignment of the funds was just as important for our defence (and far more cost effective) than the traditional defence approach of ‘build a force and intimidate your neighbours’. It repeatedly states Indonesia is a strategic alliance that not only cannot be overlooked, it should not be overlooked. A relationship that should be encouraged through diplomacy and joint regional partnerships. A relationship that should advocate membership (and promotion) of Asean.
    Then we get the 2016 charade.
    Our current foreign miniature believes that her portfolio is better concerned with getting her current ‘handbag’ into UN meetings and networking at the Melbourne Cup, than actually doing her job.
    To define defence by virtue of a commitment to spend as a percentage of GDP, without issuing any statements on foreign policy, is an absurdity that defies definition. This pretty well defines our current ‘government’, an absurdity that defies definition.
    By way of blatant derailment of your article, another computer is breaking down. Thankfully, it’s only the AEC. We need to invest in our defence, without limit, but we can’t afford to fund the very department that epitomizes what we are meant to be defending.…/australian-electoral-commission-wants-money-to-fix-ageing-it-syst...

    I just don’t get it.
    Thank you Ms Lee. Take care,

  47. nexusxyz

    When they start dismantling the health service and cutting welfare support think about the $195Billion or so that is being pissed away on useless weapons. Australia has become a little America and an increasingly nasty and brutish place.

  48. Jason

    Kaye, the only reason you can say china won’t invade is is because the USA is our ally and would beat them in a war without question. Without the USA, China would very likely invade and take over their neighbours like Taiwan and eventually Australia for all our resources. Russia would also have taken over Ukraine and others by now. Why wouldn’t they if there was no one to stop them?

    If you think defence spending is high now wait till climate change really kicks in and the wars that will happen as a result.its going to be a bloodbath at the current rate. To simply throw your arms in the air and say we won’t defend ourselves ignores the histories of WW1 and WW2 and the fact we would all be speaking Japanese if it wasn’t for the USA. It reminds me of the people who said we can negotiate with Hitler or Japan prior to WW2. Delusional.

  49. Kaye Lee

    Why invade a country when you can buy its produce and prosper from its business? Commerce is now global. No-one’s going to blow up their supply chains or markets.

  50. Jason

    China couldn’t afford to buy the whole of Australia it would be trillions upon trillions. A few properties and a port yes but the cost of buying everything in our country including an educated population is way beyond even their GDP. A military takeover is very very cheap if no one can stop you.

  51. Matters Not

    Jason you seem to be an expert on these matters, so here’s a hypothetical. Imagine Australia and Indonesia are in serious conflict. Things look really, really bad so much so that the intervention of the US is on the cards. Can you tell me on whose side the US will intervene? And why?

    Indonesia with 250 million or Australia with less than 30 million?

  52. Matters Not

    we would all be speaking Japanese if it wasn’t for the USA.

    Perhaps. But here’s a question. Did the USA ‘take on’ the Japanese because they wanted to protect Australia or was their prime motivation the ‘defeat’ of the Japanese? Or is their prime ‘motivation’ of no consequence? Or should I not ask these type of questions?

  53. Jason

    Harquebus it’s a publicly listed company so ofcourse it’s a sales pitch. It has to make a profit or it will go bankrupt. Not sure what your point is unless you want it to be government owned and run.

    I’ve had a scan of your comments and tesla functions using renewable energy so it should be possible. It’s easy to find problems, solutions are harder, what do you see as the solution to energy needs? Im hoping fusion but it’s quite far off, renewables are going to be needed.

    I’ll try have a look at the links you posted as I haven’t heard of anyone outlining that renewables cost more energy than they generate.

  54. Harquebus

    My 11:13pm comment in theAIMN link that I provided mentions it.
    Have you heard any renewable advocates mention EROEI?
    I will have to debate this concept with you another another time as I do not wish to aggravate the author. I have already been banned twice and placed on good behavior about 5 times.

  55. Bacchus

    ‘Have you heard any renewable advocates mention EROEI?’ – quite a few actually Harquebus. It seems to be only the true ‘misery-guts’ Chicken Littles who insist on a figure around 0.83. There is much (peer-reviewed) debate on figures ranging from 1.6 to over 25 EROEI for solar, including Charles Hall who coined the term, for example.

    Are your Internet searches geared for confirmation bias Harquebus? Do you truly have an open, enquiring scientific mind? The number of times Kaye Lee and Miriam English (amongst others) have ‘caught you out’ would imply not…

  56. Kaye Lee

    In my reading, the EROEI debate is very unreliable as there is no agreed methodology so you will see vastly different results from various interest groups. I note the nuclear proponents make much of the labour involved in solar, counting that as an energy cost. I can understand it from a purist sense, but we are looking for jobs to keep people employed so, from an holistic view, using that untapped labour potential should be considered a benefit rather than a cost, and that changes the EROEI significantly.

  57. Harquebus

    Miriam and I have already had an EROEI debate at this link which, I add to regularly. I am trying hard not to hijack debates.

    A small percentage and my information mostly comes from various news and science aggregators. It all boils down to who do you believe.

    Kaye Lee
    You are correct. The scope and boundary of EROEI analyses determines the result. Positive results never factor far enough.

    I have added some information for you both at the link provided.


  58. Jason

    Matters not, I didn’t claim to be an exert on anything I’m just stating my understanding of history and facts so is my opinion.

    Pearl Harbour certainly changed the USA’s view on its role in the world which is why it now has superpower status and defends most of the world. If you want to see what happens when they don’t we may well see it now that Trump has won and plans to close their military bases and support if he does what he claimed to want to do. If you think our pending is high now on military is going to have to grow if the USA stops acting as the worlds superpower.

    As far as Indonesia I understand that we have adequate defence against Indonesia ourselves which is one of he main reasons we have such strong a strong airforce so they couldn’t even invade. The USA would have definitely sided with us IMO but that may all change so we will see what Trump unleashes and how good everyone feels about Russia and China if they really start to swing their weight.

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