I know the government is desperate to find jobs for regional Queenslanders since it is obvious coal mines can’t find private funding. I know the government sees national security as one of its strong suits. But this is getting ridiculous.
Today, Malcolm Turnbull, with his defence doo wop chorus, announced the largest purchase in the Australian Army’s history – 211 light armoured vehicles to be built by a German company at a new facility in Ipswich, west of Brisbane.
Defence Minister Payne said this would provide the “mobility, the lethality and the protection that will support the men and women of the ADF in doing the job that we ask them to do every day.”
Which might be necessary if we are planning on invading someone again but I question the emphasis on “lethality” when you are tring to sell the line that they will be used for peacekeeping.
Malcolm Turnbull said it was “about ensuring that we have, for the first time, a fully integrated national sovereign defence industry.”
Except this is not us designing and creating a new product to sell. It is us paying a fortune to buy some bad-ass trucks.
Christopher Pyne said “it means jobs supporting our steel industry here and growing the capabilities of the workforce here and the skills.”
Isn’t that what the car industry used to do?
Buying and maintaining the vehicles is expected to cost $15.7 billion.
The Federal Government estimates the acquisition will create 330 jobs in Queensland, along with 170 roles in Victoria and 140 in New South Wales.
Queensland’s State Development Minister, Cameron Dick, said he was “delighted that we’ll now be able to deliver over 600 jobs for Queenslanders over a decade.”
They then said it would create 1,450 jobs across Australia – I didn’t catch the explanation for this figure.
Even if we accept the higher number, that equates to over $10 million per job. To produce what? Armoured vehicles that will likely only ever be used in war games in the outback.
If we want to encourage manufacturing, we could be producing electric cars, solar panels and wind turbines. We could be building small-scale pumped hydro systems. We could be at the forefront of innovation in water management, energy efficiency, sustainable building design. We could be building public transport, schools and hospitals. We could be training people for all the emerging jobs we will need in health, childcare, aged care, the NDIS, and information technology. We could provide more services in regional Australia.
Buying really expensive weapons from foreign companies does not count as having a defence industry, it does not provide sufficient jobs to justify the immense cost, and it does not make a productive improvement for our society.
This is not about defence. No-one has the slightest interest in invading us. Our common wealth is up for sale. Why risk a war when you can buy whatever you want for a fraction of the price?
We are building up strike force capability at the behest of the US for the profit of foreign armaments manufacturers but at our own great expense.
There is a thing called “opportunity cost” which basically means the benefit that would have accrued from alternative courses of action.
Now let me think…how could $15.7 billion be better spent?