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I can make you a General . . .

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First we are greeted by the image of Joe Hockey and Mathias Corman kicking back looking very pleased with themselves as they sucked on fat cigars. The imagery is wrong on so many levels – a satisfaction enjoyed by the rich after a fine meal or a more intimate dalliance, which leads inevitably to ‘we just got screwed’. It sends the wrong health message to kids and the wrong message to workers who I thought couldn’t smoke within a certain distance of a building.

Then we see Hockey dancing around his office. I can certainly understand him being happy to see his family but one would have thought that he may not be in a ‘dancing’ mood considering what he was about to deliver. If he was expressing relief that the process was over, I think that may have been premature. This is going to be a hard sell and we must all keep the pressure on as Sarah Ferguson did with Christopher Pyne on the 7:30 report last night.

As Hockey was making his Budget speech in Parliament I watched Tony Abbott. He was like a naughty kid in school assembly, talking behind his hand, smirking, looking around, paying no attention to what was being said and showing no respect to the speaker (Hockey, not Bronwyn). Straight afterwards he went to have a beer with the Murdoch boys from the Telegraph.

I then watched a very serious Joe Hockey being interviewed by Laurie Oakes. Gone was Jocular Joe. In a remarkably similar performance to his tearful “no child will be sent offshore on my watch” speech in Parliament, we had immigrant Joe who, with quivering lip, refused to saddle his children with Labor’s debt.

Every day, in fact every hour of every day, new information emerges from the budget, all of it bad.

Except for defence.

As job losses keep mounting up in mining, manufacturing, the public service, and countless agencies and charities, defence are in fact recruiting an extra 2744 people. Whilst new jobs are crucial, so is productivity and I want to know, since we are investing such huge amounts, what does defence add to productivity? Surely research and education and health initiatives and infrastructure like public transport and the NBN provide better for our future than more soldiers and armaments?

Many people seem convinced that we must increase defence spending and that we need a stronger armed forces. Why? We all know the power of global corporations. The armament guys might be happy but they can’t make their stuff without resources. China can’t get rich without markets. There are still terrorist organisations active in the world but huge armies don’t fight them. They are defeated through intelligence gathering by computer nerds and targeted unmanned drones.

As they cut spending on health and education, they bring forward an extra $1.5 billion for defence spending from 2017-18 to earlier years. What’s the rush? Are we under threat? Has there been another fishing boat with 15 refugees on it spotted? Why must defence spending keep increasing to 2% of GDP? Is getting the military to do their own white paper wise? How will spending $50 billion a year on defence improve the lives of Australians?

As they increase the efficiency dividend for the public service from 2% to 2.25% every year for the forward estimates, any efficiencies found in Defence costs will be reinvested back into Defence. I am not sure how that represents a saving. It must be like the PPL levy where a 1.5% surcharge on some businesses coupled with a 1.5% decrease for all businesses is supposed to raise $22 billion in revenue. I guess I must be missing some nuance here.

We meet with John Kerry and all of a sudden billions is going out of our economy to buy lots more American planes. Not only are these things very expensive to buy, they are very expensive to maintain and very expensive to fly. Exactly what contribution is this huge investment making to our country? How is it helping us transition our economy or get the debt and deficit down which I though was the number one priority and only promise that mattered?

South Korea jumped on the bandwagon making Tony agree to buy their guns. These two transactions will not have gone unnoticed by China. I wonder how much of their military hardware we will have to buy to get their signature on a Free Trade agreement.

For those who say we need the protection, I ask from who? Our Navy is currently employed guarding against asylum seekers and searching for missing planes. War is different nowadays. I seriously doubt that we will see a navy attack force heading for the Coral Sea with our submarines patrolling the reef.

This predilection for the military shows in so many areas of the Coalition – appointments of people like Jim Molan, Peter Cosgrove, Angus Houston, using the armed forces for civilian operations, naming the Operations, warlike secrecy, photos in cockpits. Even our slave labour ‘work for half the minimum wage’ workforce is called the Green Army.

Slashing Foreign Aid and supporting regimes who commit human rights abuses such as those in Sri Lanka and West Papua, seems very short term thinking if you want less asylum seekers and a peaceful world. But perhaps Tony wants to emulate his Thatcher/Reagan models in more than just economics.

Having these people in charge is truly terrifying.


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  1. Sir ScotchMistery

    Kaye Lee you raise an interesting point but I don’t think it goes quite far enough.

    When Dick Cheney became US Vice President some years ago he essentially put the United States military industrial complex straight into the White House.

    What most of us fail to realise and I only believe it because of what I see in terms of production, unless America is involved in a war their economy is basically moribund. It is probably the only nation on earth where this is the case. If there is no war, there is no requirement for munitions, for weapons, for the manufacturers of the munitions nor for the manufacturers of the weapons.

    Under the last several governments, everything that can be done has been done to smuggle us up closer to the United States and it appears the only way we can be taken seriously is if every time Dick Cheney or one of his weapons producing mates needs to improve his bottom line, America has to go to war, and we have to follow like a well-behaved dog.

    Problematically, people seem to forget that we are not an extra star on “old glory”, we are, in spite of another country’s flag being part of hours, a sovereign nation in our own right.

    This country needs change.perhaps it’s time we all began listening to “A voice for Indi”.
    I cannot imagine anything which would get the Federal government of either persuasion to take a long hard look at themselves than 40 people on the cross benches, instead of seven.

  2. Kaye Lee

    With our inaction on climate change we should be buying cargo planes rather than fighter jets because the military will no doubt be busy cleaning up after increasingly severe natural disasters.

  3. bobrafto

    The $7 doctor tax is just the start, a script to go with the consultation costs $5.

    Doctor visit and one prescription costs $12. Add another $5 bucks for each additional subscription.

    Add blood test another $5.

    Xray add another $5

    Revisit the doctor with xrays etc add another $7.

    The above works out to $29 and thats for 2 doc visits, one prescription, blood test and xray.

    What a kick in the guts that is for the average family with 2 or more kids and everyone else.

    It’s a wonder that Lying Joe didn’t come out and say he had a Mandate to do this.

  4. Zathras

    How long before we see refugee boats leaving Australia and heading the other way, filled with pensioners and economic refugees?

  5. dafid1

    Then we have Pyne in the House yesterday, clearly call Bill Shorten a c*#t, completely ignored by Speaker Bishop who merely asked Pyne to refer to the LOTO by his correct title. Both should be hauled over the coals. Labor remains silent on it, despite social media going ballistic.
    I include footage link but warning the word is heard very clearly and repeated on a loop so as there is no doubt despite Pynes denial on channel 9 this morning, he used it
    Incidentally 9 promptly took the link down after Pynes appearance. Too late guys to protect the Liar, its everywhere.

  6. mars08

    Kaye Lee… please consider that the purchase of the F35 aircraft is NOT specifically about using them to defend our shores. They were selected, not based on OUR hardware requirements, but on how they strengthen our ties with the US.

    Having these aircraft and trained pilots will allow the RAAF to quickly and efficiently integrate with American forces in future aggression or as a unified deterrent to isolate a perceived threat.

    In effect… Australia buys some expensive US jets (not really suited to our needs) and pledges to deploy them as America asks. In return we get the warm and fuzzy feeling that the Yanks are watching over our wide brown land.

    Are we safe yet?

  7. Lexi

    The reason we need flash new planes is because in only 6 months, our PM, Minister for Immigration and Minister for Foreign Affairs have so pissed off Indonesia that they’re now running shit scared.

  8. Percy Jones

    Considering Australia is the only First World Nation on this Planet yet to have a Civil War maybe they are getting ready for the INEVITABLE

  9. Michael C Stark

    We should always be spending a portion of GDP on defence because it really is clear from history that we do not know what the next threat will be though we hope it never will be. We must question where that defence spending goes to get the best value both short and long term.
    However, quite a large part of the rest of this budget is indefensible. How dare they assault medicare, ABC renewable energy, etc and ignore climate change, disabled, NBN, etc. They do so at their peril. Their lies will be remembered for a generation at least – perhaps even to the extent of relegation of the LNP to minor party status.
    There is however one point on which I take great issue (all parties). The “low tax” mantra. If we want services and infrastructure then everyone has to understand that tax pays for that. DON’T LIE ABOUT IT. BUT – that tax must be fair to all. AND – we must extract the maximum value from our non-renewable mineral resources by taxing all export profits. Perhaps the party that properly articulates “tax is good” will win the next election.

  10. Connor Baxter

    “Who do we need protection from?”
    “Well… uh… m-muh FREEDOMS! PEW PEW PEW”

    Such paranoid lust for power was unheard of outside America, until Liberal took over Australia.

  11. Sue Lofthouse

    Now that they have delivered a budget for Australia, the government should be challenged to formulate a liveable annual household budget for the average unemployed person under the age of thirty with no familial support. I don’t believe that they could do it.

  12. Hobo Sapiens

    I agree the purchase of these jets is about pretending we have a seat at the US table. What I don’t understand is who will they defend us from? The only power I can think of in this region is China and I don’t see why they would want to invade. Occupation would be impossible and anyway it is much cheaper and cleaner to keep buying us – no mess to clean up afterwards like there is after a conflict.

  13. xiaoecho

    How coincidental it is that our defence budget is ramped up at the same time those unemployed under 30 face starvation. Gee, anyone would think the government wanted them to join the army for 7 years?

  14. Hotspringer

    I understand these fighter jets are yet to fly and their technology is already obsolete. What can they do that surface-to-air missiles and drones cannot?

  15. Möbius Ecko

    I want to dispel some of the ignorance over the F35 I’ve reading here. Those who know me know I’m ex-military with over 20 years service and now work in a company with Defence contracts. I keep a abreast of military technology world wide.

    The F35 is flying and not only is its technology not obsolete it’s unmatched anywhere, which is it’s sole advantage over any other aircraft out there.

    It cannot physically outperform any of the other 5th generation attack and fighter aircraft out there and even some 4th generation, but it doesn’t have to because it can kill them well before it gets to a physical dog fight requiring high acceleration and maneuvering, and in many cases before the enemy knows the F35 is even there.

    This is not the fora to give all the details as to what makes it superior, and it would make a massive post so I won’t bore you with them.

    Yes the criticisms of it being way too expensive, complicated, costly to run and maintain are valid. So are the criticisms of the substantial problems it has had and is still having, like the software. It can probably be successfully argued it’s the wrong aircraft for Australia for a number of reasons, not the least tying us inextricably to the US. But its capability for what it was designed to do is mostly inarguable. It’s the best of its type (only one of its type?) out there and doesn’t have anything that can match it.

  16. Kaye Lee

    But do we need them ME?

  17. diongiles

    The Abbott-Hockey-Pell Government shouldn’t be underestimated. It really does have a coherent objective for Australian society. The last episode of Four Corners [1] shows the type of society, freed of the burdens of welfare and nation-building, which the Lib pollies and think tanks (and the yapping curs that echo them) clearly have in mind.


  18. donwreford

    With reference to M Ecko, in WW2, the German tanks were superior to the Russian tanks, but because of the high cost of the superior tank could not defend well as a result of Russian numbers? the F35, may well be superior, but could it maintain constant attacks from inferior aircraft that are able to create collateral damage that due to numbers will defeat the F35?
    The Liberals seem to turning the clock back to dog eat dog, now the new bully boys on the block, who are bent on a fear campaign, the target of the vulnerable, and the confirmation of linking to the tough guys, America, not only do the Liberals seem as a bunch of cowards, but their promotion of a high moral front, all seems as if they are all actors in someone else’s play, hard to believe in their superior promotion of the mirage, they belong to a anachronistic past, that will not give way to the time of now, the F35, although the school boys dream of having play toys as a present from Father Christmas, may belong to the past as warfare, the war we are now in being WW3, is a survival and a fight to retain your mind from being indoctrinated by the forces of darkness and retaining a open mind and one of balance.

  19. Paul Olsen

    @Mobius Ecko
    What exactly was the F35 designed to do?
    It’s wing loading is too high for it to be agile enough for air to air combat, and too low for it to be safely used as a low altitude penetrating bomber, (Wind gusts would be… exciting).
    As far as stealth goes… If we look at nose on images of other ‘stealth’ aircraft: F22, J20, J31, etc (Not the T50, the Russians appear to place a lower emphasis on stealth compared to agility), we find that you can see the nose of the aircraft, the leading edges of the wings, the leading edges of the canted vertical stabs, and the leading edges of the air intakes are a very thin line, also these aircraft have flat underbellies, reportedly very important to stealth characteristics.

    With the F35, we can see all that plus great swathes of area beside and below the air intakes + on the upper surfaces of the aircraft. Also the underbelly of the aircraft is not flat, not even close! There are lumps, bumps and protrusions everywhere, so how can anyone claim this aircraft has even penetration stealth?

    Clearly it does not, and that is before we get to the sides of the aircraft, much less the axisymmetrical jet nozzle!

    The aircraft is also unsuitable for close air support as it’s loiter time is too short, and it’s speed is too high, given that the distance between our troops and our hypothetical enemies troops may well be approx 50 metres, and in that case accuracy is critical.

    So, not suitable for air to air, not suitable as a penetrating bomber, not suitable for close air support. I ask again: What exactly was the F35 designed to do? And what roles is it capable of performing?

  20. mars08

    Paul Olsen:

    And what roles is it capable of performing?

    I’ve said it many times… It’s primary role in the RAAF would be to integrate with American forces. In that environment it could be used as intended… an expensive bomb truck to drop precision munitions on strategic targets! In such a role the F35 could make uses of the American airborne refuellers and Airborne Early Warning & Control aircraft.

    BTW…. interesting that the last time the RAAF had a single-engine frontline aircraft was half-a-century ago. If the stealth feature doesn’t work as advertised, let’s hope there’s some real survivability, durability and reliability built into that airframe.

    “It can probably be successfully argued it’s the wrong aircraft for Australia for a number of reasons…

    No point having the world’s fanciest butter-knife if you want to peel an apple…

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