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Tag Archives: submarines

Klaxons blaring

Before the election Tony Abbott said “I have given a commitment that we won’t spend more than $100 million on any single infrastructure project without a published cost-benefit analysis.”

As with most of what Tony said, this promise was quickly abandoned.

But what if this admirable level of transparency and accountability was applied to defence spending?

How much benefit will the nation receive from investing over $12 billion on fighter jets and $20 billion on submarines?

I have often asked the question as to just what our submarines do and when I read what SA Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said the klaxons started blaring.

“It’s $250 billion on the table over the next 30 to 40 years on naval ships, including 120,000 man-years of work on the submarines alone,” he said. “We need to do that work here. It’s just gobsmacking to think that any government would not give that work to its own citizens.”

Whoa…..a quarter of a trillion dollars????  120,000 man-YEARS??????  WTF????

Forget Ben Hur – this is bigger than the pyramids.

If we are going to invest that much one must ask….so what have our submarines ever done for us?

The Submarine Service has not seen combat since World War I.

Our first two submarines were built in Britain and arrived in Australia in 1914.  They lasted less than a year.

The first was lost in September 1914, presumed wrecked on a reef during a practice dive in New Guinea.  The second was ordered to the Mediterranean to support the British-led operations off the Galipoli peninsula in Turkey where it made four unsuccessful attacks on Turkish ships before being damaged by a Turkish gunboat and scuttled by her crew on 30 April.

These attacks are the only occasions an Australian submarine has fired in anger.

In 1919, the British government transferred six J Class submarines to Australia.  The boats were in poor mechanical condition, however, and spent most of their service in refit. Due to Australia’s worsening economic situation, all of the boats were decommissioned in 1922, and were scuttled later in the decade.

In 1927, the British O Class submarines HMAS Oxley and HMAS Otway were commissioned. These submarines took over a year to sail from Portsmouth to Sydney due to numerous mechanical problems which delayed their delivery voyage.

Due to Australia’s poor economic situation, the O Class boats proved to be unaffordable and were placed in reserve in 1930, before transferring back to the Royal Navy in 1931. As a result, the Royal Australian Navy did not operate any submarines during World War II, though the obsolete Dutch submarine K.IX was commissioned as HMAS K9 on 22 June 1943 and was used for anti-submarine warfare training purposes. Due to the boat’s poor mechanical condition HMAS K9 saw little service with the RAN and spent most of her time in commission under repair, before being decommissioned on 31 March 1944 due to a lack of spare parts.

Following World War II the Royal Navy’s 4th Submarine Flotilla was based in Sydney from 1949 until 1969. The flotilla, which varied in size between two and three boats, was used to support the Royal Australian Navy and Royal New Zealand Navy in anti-submarine warfare training, with the operating cost split between the two nations. In the early 1960s, the British Government advised the Australian Government that reductions in the Royal Navy conventional submarine force meant that the 4th Flotilla was to return to the United Kingdom.

The impending withdrawal of the British submarine flotilla sparked the fourth attempt to establish an Australian submarine service. While the Department of Defence advised the government that three to six submarines should be purchased for training purposes, following the intervention of then-Senator John Gorton the Government instead approved the purchase of eight submarines to form a submarine strike force. Eight British Oberon class submarines were ordered in 1964, to be built in Scotland in two batches of four boats. Only six boats were delivered; the seventh and eighth were cancelled in 1971 to fund the acquisition of ten A-4 Skyhawk aircraft for the Fleet Air Arm.

The Oberons conducted surveillance missions against India and Communist nations in South East Asia during the Cold War. These missions were cancelled in 1992 when an Australian submarine became tangled in fishing nets and was forced to surface in the South China Sea.

The Oberon class boats were gradually decommissioned and replaced with new Collins class submarines during the 1990s.  The six Collins class submarines were the first Australian-built submarines, and the most expensive ships to have been built in Australia.

Like the Oberon class, the Collins class submarines have conducted surveillance patrols. These patrols have included collecting intelligence on East Timor ahead of the Australian-led intervention into the then-Indonesian province in 1999.

While the Collins class submarines’ performance has improved over time, their maximum diving depth was permanently reduced following the near-loss of HMAS Dechaineux when a pipe burst during a practice dive in February 2003.

In early 2007, it was reported that Submarine Service was experiencing severe shortfalls in personnel and had only 70% of its authorised strength of 500 sailors. These shortfalls were reported to have reduced the service’s operational readiness and forced HMAS Collins to be temporarily withdrawn from service.

The Collins class submarines will begin to reach the end of their useful life from 2026.

So….it appears that our submarines are only used for training which we wouldn’t need if we didn’t have submarines, and surveillance which would surely be better carried out by satellites, electronic intercepts and drones than by submarines.

How likely are we to ever need a submarine “strike force”?  Would we actually launch missiles or torpedoes against anyone considering our submarines haven’t seen action since 1915?

If we can’t fill the 500 positions we currently have for submariners, where will we find the personnel for 6 extra vessels?

If we aren’t building them here then an awful lot of money is going out of our economy for no employment benefit beyond a few maintenance crew.

My verdict:  This is a ridiculous waste of a huge amount of money for no discernible benefit on something that most likely will never be needed and may well be obsolete before it is built.

Absolute crap

One thing that has become increasingly apparent about Tony Abbott is that he gears his words to his audience.  If that meant explaining policies at a level that the audience could comprehend, that could be a good thing, but in the case of our Prime Minister, it means saying what you think they want to hear even if it is inconsistent with, or even diametrically opposed to what you have told a different audience.

When Tony visited a meeting of 130 farmers and townspeople in Beaufort in September 2009, he called for a show of hands on whether the Coalition should support the ETS. Only a handful voted yes.

Abbott, until that point Turnbull’s main defender on the ETS, quickly donned his sceptic’s hat and played to the room discussing how there had been many changes of climate over the millennia not caused by man, leading to that infamous quote

“The argument is absolute crap. However, the politics of this are tough for us. Eighty per cent of people believe climate change is a real and present danger.”

His comments were warmly received in this rural heartland and that was when Tony realised that he may have a shot at the leadership if he became a climate change denier.

After he staged his leadership takeover, Abbott tried to cover-up his backflip describing his use of “crap” as “a bit of hyperbole” and not his “considered position” and said it was made “in the context of a very heated discussion where I was attempting to argue people around to what I thought was then our position”.

Absolute crap say the people who were at the meeting.

Event organiser Jim Cox said Abbott’s comment was “very well received” and he quickly realised “he was on a bit of a winner”.  Vice-president of the Beaufort branch of the Liberal Party Joe McCracken said Abbott looked relieved by the applause.

Buoyed by his success, Tony used the same approach when he attended a luncheon event on International Women’s Day in 2010.

What would women want to hear?  I know…we are going to give you universal paid parental leave on replacement wages plus superannuation for six months and we are going to scrap Labor’s $150,000- a-year income limit on the $5185 Baby Bonus.

Instead of being grateful, women, who are in the main smarter than Tony Abbott, realised this fell into the ‘too good to be true’ category.  As subsequent actions have shown, Tony’s feigned concern for women and families was absolute crap as was his promise not to introduce any new taxes. (Who could forget that humiliating interview with Kerry O’Brien?)

Not only have we lost the Baby Bonus, and lost the right to claim paid parental leave from both our employer and the government, eligibility for Family Benefit payments has been tightened up and increases frozen.  The appropriateness of these measures is debatable but Abbott’s backflip is not.

Going into the last election Tony Abbott promised a ‘unity ticket’ on education.  The Liberal Party education policy also clearly stated “We will ensure the continuation of the current arrangements of university funding.”

Absolute crap.

When Tony Abbott addressed the IPA at their 70th anniversary dinner, he spoke of freedom.

Freedom can only exist within a framework of law so that every person’s freedom is consistent with the same freedom for everyone else.  At least in the English speaking tradition, liberalism and conservatism, love of freedom and respect for due process, have been easy allies.

“Do unto others as you would have them do unto you” is the foundation of our justice. “Love your neighbour as you love yourself” is the foundation of our mercy.

..a democratic parliament, an incorruptible judiciary and a free press, rather than mere law itself, are the best guarantors of human rights.

You campaigned against the legislative prohibition against giving offence and I’m pleased to say that the author of those draft laws is now leaving the parliament. Well done IPA! And, of course, you campaigned against the public interest media advocate, an attack dog masquerading as a watchdog, designed to intimidate this government’s media critics and that legislation was humiliatingly withdrawn.”

Abbott sucked up to the IPA telling them what they wanted to hear but where is the due process for citizens returning from the Middle East?  Where is the justice and mercy for asylum seekers?  Where is the concern for human rights?  Where is the freedom to criticise this government?  And who is Abbott to speak of humiliating withdrawals?

That speech had more crap in it than Chinese berries.

Tony speaks of his commitment to tackling the scourge of domestic violence and to closing the gap for Indigenous Australians while slashing funding for frontline services.  We have seemingly endless funds for defence, national security and border protection.  We can even find $40 million to give Cambodia to take four refugees.  But we cannot fund refuges, legal services and advocacy groups.

The lip service paid to the protection of our vulnerable has been proven absolute crap by the actions of Abbott’s mob.

And when it comes to the economy, everything the Abbott government says is crap.  Despite significantly increasing the debt and deficit and having to downgrade projections with every fiscal statement, they try to convince us that they have cut billions from the debt they inherited.  It makes no sense whatsoever to compare trajectories in ten years’ time and claim credit for things that haven’t happened and aren’t likely to.

After campaigning widely on the supposed “debt and deficit disaster” and trash talking our economy, Joe Hockey warns us now of the irresponsibility of such talk because of its negative affect on confidence.  Whilst reining in government spending, he encourages us all to get out there and spend up big to stimulate the economy.  Joe, you are full of it.

On many occasions before the election, the Coalition promised to build our new submarines in South Australia.  It even appears in their defence policy released on September 2, 2013.

“We will also ensure that work on the replacement of the current submarine fleet will centre around the South Australian shipyards.”

When Tony’s leadership was threatened in February, he promised his South Australian colleagues that would be the case – at least that’s what they thought he promised.  Even they must now realise that was absolute crap.

Before the election we were promised “no cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS” and no adverse changes to superannuation.

Absolute crap.

In his victory speech on September 7 2013 Tony Abbott made the following promise:

“In a week or so the governor-general will swear in a new government. A government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses. A government that understands the limits of power as well as its potential. And a government that accepts that it will be judged more by its deeds than by its mere words.”

My judgement?

Tony Abbott will say whatever he thinks people want to hear because, far from being a leader, he is a dishonest inadequate man whose only motivation is to keep his job.  This makes him susceptible to manipulation.  We are in the position where focus groups, vested interests, lobbyists and party donors are dictating policy because our PM is a weak man with no vision whose words mean nothing.

Absolute crap, indeed.

Jobs and growth…but for who?

The Abbott government says they are all about jobs and growth, but for who?

In 2012, unions were outraged by a decision to allow Gina Rinehart to import more than 1,700 foreign workers on 457 visas for her latest project in Western Australia.

Paul Howes said “This is a big win for Gina Rinehart, it’s a big win for Clive Palmer, it’s a big win for Twiggy Forrest and it’s a massive kick in the guts, a massive kick in the guts to those 130,000 workers in the manufacturing industry who have lost their jobs since 2008.”

A number of companies in construction, mining and IT hired many more foreign workers than they had applied for. The straw that broke the camel’s back was one company allegedly bringing in 800 workers under the 457 visa in an 18 month period when they were only granted approval for 100 visas over three years.

In 2013, the Labor government tightened the regulations to prevent employers from hiring more workers then they originally advertised to the market.

Tony Abbott’s government have made adjustments to the 457 Visa regulation, allowing employers to again hire an unlimited amount of foreign workers with a temporary working visa.

In April this year, the Federal Government was asked to investigate claims that 457 work visas are being abused at Gina Rinehart’s $10 billion Roy Hill iron ore project in the Pilbara.

The Construction, Forestry, Mining and Energy Union said there were up to 200 Korean white collar 457 visa workers employed by contractor Samsung C&T on the project doing low-level clerical work for Roy Hill’s main construction contractor.

“The allegation is that they’ve been brought in to do certain types of work and then they are being allocated other types of work in breach of their visa conditions.”

Aside from being asked to do work outside their visa conditions, the CFMEU alleged many of the staff were working more than 84 hours a week and being paid as little as $16 an hour.

In March, Gina Rinehart’s mining group, Hancock Prospecting signed off on a $US7.2 billion debt package for her highly anticipated Roy Hill iron ore project in Western Australia’s Pilbara region.

In return for the US government loan, Hancock Prospecting will purchase American mining and rail equipment from Caterpillar, General Electric and Atlas Copco. The Export-Import Bank says their involvement will “support” 3400 US jobs

Since we own the resources, and we have to give approval to any mining venture, why do we not make it a condition of approval that you must use Australian equipment, Australian steel, and Australian workers?

Threats that projects will not go ahead under these circumstances indicate they were not profitable in the first place and, if we are importing equipment and the profit is all going offshore and the employment to lowly paid foreigners, then all we are left with is the environmental damage, railways linking mines to ports paid for with our royalties, and the demise of manufacturing and tourism.

Under the new Free Trade Agreement, Chinese companies will be able to bring skilled workers to Australia to plug labour shortages on big infrastructure projects.

The deal says Chinese-owned companies will be able to ­”negotiate similarly to Australian ­business, increased labour flexibilities for specific projects”.

The arrangements will apply to projects valued above $150 million under the deal negotiated between the two countries. Projects will involve the employment of foreign workers on 457 work visas.

ACTU president Ged Kearney said the effect on Australian jobs would be “disastrous” if the agreement allowed “Chinese contractors on Australian projects to nominate Chinese workers for visas without having to advertise for jobs locally”.

Maritime Union of Australia Western Australian branch secretary Christy Cain hit out at the visa concession and described the measure as “an absolute disgrace”.

“These (mineral) resources are ours and those of the Australians paying taxes for all their lives that are now ­seeing workshops closing and car manufacturing dying,” Mr Cain said.

“I don’t blame the Chinese, they are saying you want us to invest in Australia then we will bring our own labour over. But it’s ludicrous. What is happening to our Australian values?”

According to a report by the Australian Farm Institute, the value of Australian agricultural exports to China grew by an average 12 per cent a year in the 14 years to 2012. Not bad, except that Chinese imports of agricultural products increased by an annual 16 per cent during the same period. In terms of share of the Chinese market, that means Australia fell from 11 per cent to 6 per cent.

The AFI report says that Australia’s share of US agricultural imports has fallen since the FTA between the two countries came into force in 2005, despite reductions in tariffs. The two countries that achieved the fastest growth in agricultural exports to China over the 14 years to 2012 were the US and Brazil and neither has a free trade agreement with China.

Two Chinese investment groups have established a $3 billion fund to invest in Australian agriculture, as Australia edges closer to securing a free trade deal with China.

The fund, known as the Beijing Australia Agricultural Resource Cooperative Development Fund, is a joint partnership  between state-owned Beijing Agricultural Investment Fund and the Shenzen-based Yuhu group.

It will focus on supplying produce back to China, especially infant milk formula, beef, lamb and seafood.

John Lee, a China expert at Sydney University, points out that Chinese policy is to be a net exporter of meat products, rice and wheat by 2025.

That explains why the FTA with Australia contains no concessions for rice and wheat and perhaps also why there is an important, though largely overlooked, qualification to the reduction in tariffs on beef imports. As our Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade puts it, “China has retained the right to apply a discretionary safeguard on beef … if imports exceed a set annual ‘safeguard’ trigger volume.”

The safeguard trigger starts at 170,000 tonnes a year, which is only 10 per cent above Australian exports of 153,000 tonnes of beef to China last year, although there is a so far unspecified provision for the trigger to grow. For exports above this level, the tariff will be reapplied. The department adds, not so reassuringly, that there is a process to “consider” removal of the safeguard.

So it appears the FTA with China has resulted in Chinese investors buying our mines and farms, employing Chinese workers, and then sending the produce back to China at reduced rates.  This produce could well fill the 10% trigger for beef leaving Australian farmers’ produce still attracting tariffs.

And when it comes to our huge spending on defence materiel it’s a similar story.

DMO spends up to $10 billion-a-year of taxpayer funds managing more than 200 defence projects ranging from warships to bullets.  About 40 per cent of the outlays are absorbed by administration costs.

Australia is considering buying 10 state-of-the-art Soryu class submarines from Japan, at a reported price of more than $20 billion.

Former senior Japanese military personnel, Mr Yamauchi and Mr Ogawa, both told the ABC that an Australian budget of $20 billion would mean that all the construction would have to happen in Japan.

And they said any attempts to do any of the work in Adelaide would double the price.

Mr Ogawa said if construction happened in Japan it would be bad for Australian jobs, but good for the Japanese economy.

“If the issue of military secrets can be resolved then Japanese business will be happy it will bring jobs and growth,” he said.

And then there is the $24 billion that Australia had allocated to buy and deploy a fleet of 72 F-35 Joint Strike Fighter jets.

Critics, including Federal Liberal MP and former analyst with the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, Dr Dennis Jenson, claim that politicians have been manipulated by an elaborate and at times misleading sales pitch by the world’s largest military corporation, Lockheed Martin.

In April Tony Abbott said “Australian business has already won some $1.5 billion worth of work associated with this aircraft. Up to $7.5 billion worth of additional work is there potentially.”

The reality is Australian industries are only contracted for around $370 million work, with Lockheed Martin assurances but no guarantees of more to come.  Current contracts are only for 12 months.

Dr Jenson said “The warning I’d give is: don’t bank on the work that you’re being told you’re going to get. You will get it while Lockheed Martin is still pushing very hard for signatures on the dotted line, but once all those signatures are there, don’t bet on winning any future contracts.”

Dr Jenson raised questions about problems posed by the F-35’s heavy weight and the threat that it will be no match for possible adversaries with a high-ranking Lockheed Martin delegation before a joint parliamentary inquiry in Canberra. Lockheed Martin’s response: “We cannot answer that question, just as we cannot answer the threat question, because we get into classified areas very, very quickly.”

RAAF head flight test engineer, Peter Goon, warned “The aircraft is not coming within a bull’s roar of its – some of its operational specifications. The designs are riddled with single points of failure. And many of the critical elements of design have been painted into what we engineers call “coffin corner”.”

“Coffin corner” is the concern that the F-35 couldn’t compete against these cheaper, lighter and more agile Russian and Chinese stealth fighter jets, which are expected to be sold widely around the world.

The US Air Force Combat Command, meantime, has expressed its own reservations. It has warned the US must continue to maintain its older, more agile and far more effective fleet of F-22 jet fighters to back up the F-35s or they’ll be rendered irrelevant. So should Australia instead try to buy the proven F-22? Well, according to the Defence Minister, Australia did ask, but the Americans insisted there was no choice, but to take the troubled F-35 or nothing.

DAVID JOHNSTON: “They’ve said, “No, you can’t have the F-22; that is for the United States Air Force. But you can certainly participate in our program with the Joint Strike Fighter.” We do not have anywhere else to go.”

Is it just me….or are we being screwed here?

Regaining goodwill

Joe Hockey said “We are going to give economic reform a red hot go in 2015.”

He went on to say “The taxation discussion with the Australian people next year will not be about increasing the revenue take for the Commonwealth, it needs to be how we can have a taxation system that makes us a more efficient and productive nation, and is fairer for all Australians.”

If we want to make revenue collection fairer, and we want to cut wasteful spending, then I have a few suggestions of where to start.

Corporate tax avoidance

Tackling corporate tax avoidance is an urgent priority; Australia does not have a spending problem, it has a revenue problem and it must be fixed.

Up to $80 billion was foregone by the taxman between 2004 and 2013.

Superannuation tax concessions

Superannuation tax concessions will cost the budget around $35 billion in 2013-14 projected to rise at a staggering 12 per cent annually to be $50.7 billion in 2016-17.

Capital Gains Tax and Negative gearing

Generous government tax breaks for property investors see them benefit from a 50% discount on capital gains tax (at a cost to the government’s budget of $4.4 billion per year) and negative gearing (costing $2.4 billion a year).

Fossil fuel subsidies

The Government will spend almost $14 billion in the next four years on fossil fuel subsidies to the big mining corporations.

Fighter jets

Tony Abbott said Australia will acquire another 58 Joint Strike Fighters at a cost of around $90 million per plane; $24 billion has been budgeted to purchase and operate the aircraft until 2024.

Submarines

A decision to spend more than $20 billion on up to 10 Japanese submarines will be announced before the end of the year (maybe?)

Offshore detention

The Commission of Audit’s report shows that in the past four years, the Australian government has increased spending on the detention and processing of asylum seekers who arrive by boat by 129 per cent each year. Costs have skyrocketed from $118.4 million in 2009–10 to $3.3 billion in 2013–14.

This is the fastest growing government program and projected costs over the forward estimates amount to more than $10 billion.

(It costs $400,000 a year to hold an asylum seeker in offshore detention, $239,000 to hold them in detention in Australia, and less than $100,000 for an asylum seeker to live in community detention.  In contrast, it is around $40,000 for an asylum seeker to live in the community on a bridging visa while their claim is processed.)

Transfield

The Abbott government has given Transfield Services a $1.22 billion government contract to run immigration detention centres on Nauru and Manus Island.

(Tony Shepherd, who was the chairman of Transfield until he resigned in October to Head the Commission of Audit, left with more than 200,000 Transfield shares, allocated to his family superannuation fund, on top of his final salary of $380,000.  Shares in Transfield soared 20.8 per cent on the news, lifting the company’s market capitalisation by about $80 million. He now heads the WestConnex Delivery Authority where money from the East-West link may be redirected)

Employment Service Providers

The Coalition Government has released its exposure draft of the purchasing arrangements for a new employment services model – a $5.1 billion investment over three years from July 1, 2015 – which includes the new Work for the Dole scheme.

Emissions Reduction Fund

Under the ERF the government will spend $2.55 billion to purchase emissions reductions through auctions.

Public Service redundancies

The federal government is on track to fork out $1 billion in redundancy payouts to public servants even before entitlements such as leave are paid.

School chaplains

School chaplaincy will be continued for another five years at a cost of $245.3 million. Under the program, 3700 schools are eligible for up to $72,000 funding to employ chaplains.

Marriage guidance vouchers

NEWLYWEDS across Australia will be given a $200 voucher for marriage counselling from July 1, as part of a $20 million trial to strengthen relationships and avoid family breakdowns.

Tim Wilson

TONY Abbott’s hand-picked human rights adviser has been given a $56,000 expenses package to top up his six-figure salary.  Human Rights Commissioner Tim Wilson now has a total salary of $389,000 plus vehicle and telephone expenses following a recent decision by the Remuneration Tribunal.

Hope that gets you started Joe, or whoever is now doing the budget.  (Cormann?  Frydenberg?  Thawley?  Credlin?  Rinehart?)

PS:  In light of the above potential savings, you may want to read my plan to get half a million people employed at a cost of $8.8 billion

PPS:  In South Africa, Boxing Day was renamed Day of Goodwill in 1994.  May you use it to contemplate wisely.

“This election is all about trust.”

In December 2012, in an interview on Sunrise, Tony Abbott said “It is never a good thing for a government to break fundamental promises and this government has broken its two covenants with the Australian people: no carbon tax and a budget surplus. They’ve broken both of them. You just can’t trust this mob.”

Fair enough. They were silly promises in the first place and Labor did a pitiful job of explaining the need to maintain deficits in the short term, and that our carbon pricing mechanism was actually an ETS with a temporary fixed price period.  They needed to talk about the necessity of creating jobs and the economic consequences of inaction on climate change.

Instead, this was the wedge that Abbott used so successfully to bring Gillard down.

In August 2013, Tony Abbott said “I want to be known as a prime minister who keeps commitments.”

In his victory speech, Abbott reassured us

“In a week or so the governor-general will swear in a new government. A government that says what it means, and means what it says. A government of no surprises and no excuses.”

So let’s have a look at a few examples of Tony et al saying what they mean.

At his campaign launch Tony said

“Within 100 days….The NBN will have a new business plan to ensure that every household gains five times current broadband speeds – within three years and without digging up almost every street in Australia – for $60 billion less than Labor.”

More than a year has passed and the Coalition’s NBN truly is in no-man’s land with Telstra holding Turnbull, the NBN effort and the entire Abbott Government over a barrel.  Turnbull is still happy to keep fighting the election with endless reports supporting the Coalition’s increasingly untenable NBN policy.

NBN Co’s Strategic Review makes it very clear that the company could deliver an all-fibre FTTP network to Australians for just $15 billion more and only three years later than the Coalition’s Multi-Technology Mix project. This infrastructure would be vastly superior to the Coalition’s version and would not need to be upgraded. The review also showed, rather than costing the government anything, the investment will bring a return.  Turnbull is being deliberately misleading in describing this as an expense when it is actually a capital investment.  We are still waiting to hear the result of the Michael Vertigan-led cost-benefit analysis.

While this may be an example of a Minister determined to get his own way who is now on a learning curve on how difficult business negotiations can be in such a large scale project, that can’t be said of other commitments which have been abandoned, though Tony will tell you that you misheard him.

In December last year, Tony told Andrew Bolt

We are going to keep the promise that we actually made, not the promise that some people thought that we made or the promise that some people might have liked us to make. We’re going to keep the promise that we actually made.”

He was referring to his backflip on school funding. So let’s look at the promises that were made.

“In order to ensure funding certainty, we will honour the deals that the government has so far made and we will match the offers that the government has so far made in terms of funding.” –Tony Abbott, interviewed by Sabra Lane, ABC Radio’s AM, 5 August 2013

“I can promise that no school would be worse off under the Coalition.” –Joint doorstop interview with Russell Matheson, Camden, NSW, 15 July 2013

“As far as school funding is concerned, Kevin Rudd and I are on a unity ticket. There is no difference between Kevin Rudd and myself when it comes to school funding.” –Joint press conference with Christopher Pyne and Alan Tudge, St Andrew’s Christian College, 2 August 2013

And it’s not just on school funding where Abbott is trying to tell us we misheard him.

In May last year in South Australia, the defence minister David Johnston gave this doorstop media conference on the future submarine project.

“DAVID JOHNSTON – The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide, we will get that task done, and it is a really important task, not just for the Navy but for the nation. And we are going to see the project through, and put it very close after force protection, as our number priority if we win the next Federal Election. Over to you Steve.

MARSHALL – Can I just say I am very grateful for Senator Johnston coming to South Australia and confirming the Coalition’s policy, to build 12 submarines here in South Australia. It’s fantastic news for South Australia, it’s fantastic news for the people who work in the defence sector in South Australia, there has been a big cloud having over their heads for an extended period of time, the Government announced this in 2009 and as Senator Johnston said has done very little since then, we still have no clarity about the time frame, the cost for the project from the Government whatsoever, but what we have got today is a real focus from the Opposition, this a major priority for us as the Federal level and we are just so delighted here in South Australia that Senator Johnston has been able to come along and confirm that for us today.”

Sophie Mirabella was appointed to run the show.

“Once she has straightened things up, implemented a few changes and bullied or cowed the workforce, her operation will be made to float (or sink, when necessary) on their own merits, without any assistance from taxpayers. And to make a profit doing so.”

Then on October 23, Peter Hendy, member for Eden-Monaro, rose to say in Parliament

“The coalition promised at the last election that the new submarine project will be centred on Adelaide. Any more specific commitment than that would have been grossly irresponsible in defence strategy terms. We need to ensure that the best capability is purchased, not simply have an industry policy propping up one region of Australia. I think that whatever decision is made there will be plenty of contracts and jobs for South Australia. This can be done without jeopardising the overriding priority of good defence policy.

I note that the Leader of the Opposition did the exact opposite in his recent speech on the topic. His speech, promising amongst other things that, under Labor, the submarines would be built in Adelaide without first doing the proper due diligence harked back to the protectionist, xenophobic unionism that we all thought had been relegated to the past—obviously, not.”

And then we have the Renewable Energy Target.

On 19 June 2013, Greg Hunt said on Sky News:

“We agree on the national targets to reduce our emissions by five per cent by 2020. We also agree on the renewable energy target. And one of the things we don’t want to do is to become a party where there is this wild sovereign risk where you are, where businesses take steps to their detriment on the basis of a pledge and a policy of Government. And we’re very clear that that’s not what we want to be.”

From a doorstop interview on 29 September 2011:

“QUESTION: Is the Coalition committed to a renewable energy target?

TONY ABBOTT: Look, we originated a renewable energy target. That was one of the policies of the Howard Government and yes we remain committed to a renewable energy target. I certainly accept that the renewable energy target is one of the factors of the current power system which is causing prices to go up but we have no plans to change the renewable energy target.”

Now we have Ian McFarlane attempting to convince us that the Coalition is keeping their promise to stick to the 20% RET but, due to falling demand, the actual amount will be reduced by 40%.  This, he says, is not a reduction and he played the “baffle them with numbers game” on Insiders this morning.

Unfortunately for him, the government website explaining the RET legislation is very specific on this matter.

“The RET policy is often expressed in terms of a percentage target, specifically to ‘ensure that at least 20 per cent of electricity is generated from renewable sources by 2020’. However this is translated into a fixed GWh target in the legislation in order to provide a clear goal for industry and certainty for market participants. The target has been expressed in GWh since the original Mandatory Renewable Energy Target scheme commenced in 2001.

The Government agrees that the existing 41,000 GWh Large-scale Renewable Energy Target and annual targets should be retained. A change to the target (either an increase or a decrease) would create instability in the renewable energy industry, impact on the risk premiums required by lenders and investors, and decrease the likelihood of any target being met.

The Government also notes that modelling conducted for the Review found that reducing the target would not result in a material reduction to average household electricity bills and would not justify the damage to investor confidence that would be caused by such a change.”

And then we have the car industry.

On July 28 2013 Tony Abbott said

“What I want to do is make it easier for this industry to flourish. I want to make it easier for people to get on with their lives and to enjoy driving great motor cars, particularly great Australian made motor cars.”

On 21 August 2013, he assured us that “We have a good record when it comes to working with the car manufacturers to help them, not just to survive, but to flourish, and we will act in that same spirit in the future.”

In his campaign speech he said “the motor industry will be saved from Mr Rudd’s $1.8 billion tax on company cars.”

Instead, not only did he give up almost $2 billion in revenue from stopping tax rorting, he wasted no time in putting the nail in the coffin for car manufacturing in Australia.

And the lies didn’t stop after the election. During the by-election for Kevin Rudd’s old seat the Medicare co-payment was a hot topic.

REPORTER: “Can you guarantee there won’t be a Medicare co-payment?”

TONY ABBOTT: “Nothing is being considered, nothing has been proposed, nothing is planned.”

-Joint doorstop interview with Bill Glasson, Brisbane, 1 February 2014

REPORTER: “Would you consider a co-payment, a means testing to help relieve the pressure on the health budget?”

TONY ABBOTT: “Obviously the budget, generally, is under pressure and it’s very important that we do what we can to fix the budget, as quickly as we can, but we’ve got to do it in ways which are consistent with our pre-election commitments. Don’t forget, I said we were going to be a no surprises, no excuses government.”

-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 20 February 2014

REPORTER: “In light of the latest scare campaign however, can’t you just knock it on the head, pull the rug out from under Labor’s scare campaign and guarantee no co-payments?”

TONY ABBOTT: “Well I think I have knocked the scare campaign on the head and again this is all the Labor Party has got.”

-Doorstop interview, Sydney, 20 February 2014

We also had continual promises about no new taxes.

“The only party which is going to increase taxes after the election is the Labor Party.” -Joint press conference with Greg Hunt and Bill Glasson, Brisbane, 9 August 2013

Instead we have the high income earners levy, the Paid Parental Leave levy, fuel excise indexation, and the medicare co-payment. We have also seen funding to the States slashed by $80 billion in an obvious attempt to starve them into being the ones to ask for a hike in GST.

And who could ever forget…

“No cuts to education, no cuts to health, no change to pensions, no change to the GST and no cuts to the ABC or SBS.” -on SBS TV on election eve, 6 September 2013

This list is by no means exhaustive but I am already well past the attention span of most readers. I will close with some wise words of advice from our current Prime Minister….

“Look, if I tell the kind of massive fibs that this government has told, I would deserve the most condign electoral punishment.”

-Tony Abbott, Interviewed by the Grill Team, Radio Triple M, Sydney, 25 February 2011

Budget emergency?

Six months of Abbott’s idea of belt-tightening …

February 25

The Abbott government has spent $2.5 million on lifeboats to send asylum seekers intercepted at sea back to Indonesia.

The figure, revealed in letters tabled in the Senate by Assistant Immigration Minister Michaelia Cash, indicates the government is paying more than $200,000 per lifeboat, each of which is understood to be used only once.

Fairfax Media understands the government has so far bought about 12 of the boats.

March 13

The Abbott government has confirmed plans to buy Triton surveillance drones that can watch vast stretches of the seas to Australia’s north.

The program would mean about $100 million in new facilities and infrastructure in South Australia as well as about $20 million a year in ongoing work.

The 2012 Defence Capability plan flagged the purchase of up to seven Tritons at a cost of between $2 billion and $3 billion.

April 22

Australia will make one of its biggest ever military purchases with a $12 billion order for 58 Joint Strike Fighters in a move that will lift the nation’s air combat power to among the world’s most advanced.

May 13

The Government will provide Defence with $29.2 billion in 2014-15 and $122.7 billion over the Forward Estimates – up $9.6 billion increase on the figure provided by the previous Government.

Reinstatement of the ADF Gap Year Programme will cost $18.3 million in 2014-15 and $191.8 million across the Forward Estimates.

June 7

Two new Navy supply ships will be built overseas, sparking a political fight over the Federal Government’s commitment to local manufacturing.

The Federal Government says Spain’s Navantia and South Korea’s Daewoo will compete for the tenders to replace HMAS Success and HMAS Sirius.

However, the union has welcomed the Government’s decision to build 20 new Pacific Class patrol boats at home.

Senator Johnston says he wants the local industry to build the next fleet of frigates and has allocated $78.2 million for design work.

But he says he will send the work offshore if the local industry does not lift its game.

June 10

The Australian government has set aside almost $90 million for the search for missing flight MH370— expected to be the most expensive in aviation history — but it’s possible that figure could increase.

“The government has allocated $89.9 million. I think about $25 million of that is to go the defence force for the visual search they conducted,’’ former defence force chief Air Chief Marshal Houston told the ABC.

“There’s another $60 million that’s been allocated for the underwater search.

August 4

Australia’s spy and counter-terror agencies will receive a $630 million funding boost to fight the threat of home-grown terrorism, which Prime Minister Tony Abbott says ”has not changed” and is still ”as high as it has ever been”.

August 14

HUNDREDS of millions of dollars will be spent bolstering the RAAF’s fleet — and the prime minister is in line for a new long-range jet, promising uninterrupted global travel.

The government plan — scheduled to be delivered as part of next year’s Defence White Paper — includes the purchase of up to four new aircraft: an additional two Airbus tanker-transport planes and one or two Boeing C-17 heavy lift aircraft.

August 15

THE nation’s most troubled defence project — the $8 billion Air Warfare Destroyer — is now running $500 million over budget and will be delivered at least two years late.

It is understood that the latest cost increase — estimated at $150 million — has only just been revealed by the alliance building the three warships — Adelaide-based government owned shipbuilder ASC, US giant Raytheon and Federal Government’s Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO).

September 1

The Australia Prime Minister has ordered a fleet of bombproof BMWs to protect leaders during the G20 summit this year.

BMW Group Australia confirmed the Government purchased nine BMW 7 Series 760Li security vehicles. The vehicles are BMW armoured security vehicles with identical engineering and performance specifications.

The $6.2 million fleet can withstand AK47 fire, attacks with explosive devices or armour-piercing weapons.

September 7

A local consortium is preparing to tender for the 20-plus vessels to be built for the $2 billion Pacific Patrol Boat Program

September 8

In one of the biggest and most contentious defence equipment decisions in decades, the Abbott Government will select the Japanese-built Soryu Class submarine to replace locally built Collins Class boats as the navy’s key strike weapon beyond 2030.

A decision to spend more than $20 billion on up to 10 of the Japanese vessels will be announced before the end of the year.

September 16

Australia’s military involvement in Iraq is likely to cost half a billion dollars each year, Tony Abbott has revealed

In contrast …

September 17

The Federal Government has been embarrassed over its $7 million response to the Ebola virus with an international medical group rejecting the money and demanding Australian doctors be sent to Africa instead.

“We have been very clear with the government for two weeks now we are not asking for financial support, we are asking the government to evaluate Australia’s emergency medical capacity and mobilise it on the ground in West Africa.”

At least 2,630 people have died in the worst outbreak of Ebola virus in history, which has so far infected at least 5,357 people in West Africa, the World Health Organization (WHO) said on Thursday.  Despite this, our government could only come up with the same amount it spent on Tony’s new car.

 

Sitting on defence

tony-abbott-in-afghanistan-e1409361578289$80,281,391.78

This is how much we will spend every single day this year on defence.  And this figure is conservative.  It does not include funds appropriated to the Defence Housing Authority, those administered by Defence for military superannuation schemes and housing support services, nor the additional funds provided directly to the Defence Materiel Organisation to buy equipment.  Equipment investment will grow from around $3.5 billion last year to $6.1 billion this year.

This year’s federal budget was dominated by budget repair. Yet amid the spending cuts and tax increases, Defence did very well. Nominal defence spending will grow by $2.3 billion this financial year (2014-15) to $29.3 billion, representing 1.8% of GDP. In real terms, the year-on-year increase amounts to a 6% boost.

Tony Abbott has also promised to increase defence funding to 2% of GDP in 2023-24.  To meet the target on the basis of the funding disclosed for the next four years, expenditure will have to increase at a rate of 5.3% above inflation for the six years after that.

If the government wants to spend 2% of GDP on defence it’ll have to find a way to convince taxpayers to accept the higher taxes and/or reduced services necessary to fund the venture.  Every extra dollar allocated to Defence meant deeper cuts to social programs and higher increases to taxes than would have otherwise been the case to achieve its fiscal goals.

2% of projected GDP in 2023-24 is a lot of money; around $52 billion ($42 billion in today’s terms). Extrapolating current trends in personnel and operating costs, there’ll be around $112 billion available for capital investment in the forthcoming decade as a consequence, compared with only $66 billion for the decade just past (both measured in today’s dollars). It appears, therefore, that the ADF will need to grow to accommodate the additional money that’s been promised.

Key initiatives in this budget included the bringing forward of $1.5 billion funding previously planned for 2017-18 to “address immediate pressures”.  I assume the ‘immediate pressures’ include the unending search for the missing Malaysian plane on which we have already spent about $50 million with another $90 million set aside for the search over the next two years.  They probably also include Scott Morrison’s war on asylum seekers which is costing defence $60 million this year on top of the $6 billion allocated to the Department of Immigration and Border Protection.

Like other departments, defence has had an increase to the efficiency dividend.  Unlike other departments, according to the budget night press release, ‘$1.2 billion in back office savings over the Forward Estimates will be reinvested into Defence capability’.

On current estimates, each of Australia’s roughly 10 million workers will be contributing around $5,000 a year each to sustain the promised defence budget in 2023-24. Yet, according to opinion polls, support for higher defence spending has fallen from 60% in 2001 to less than 40% today.

Despite massive military spending the Australian Defence Force has a wide range of serious problems and may have great difficulty defending Australia in the near future.

Much of this relates to the attempts made by Liberal – Labor governments to cast the ADF in the role of ‘Deputy Sheriff’ – a bit player in distant US conflicts with limited independent capability.

New Australia recommends that Australia maintain a ‘defensive only’ armed forces. This does not threaten our neighbours and so will not trigger an arms race with them.  Maintaining a defensive-only force could save billions of dollars and leave Australia better defended than it is at present with a force oriented towards supporting US-led operations.  They make the following suggestions.

  • Cancel the Joint Strike Fighter Program.  Replace with far cheaper and more capable aircraft such as F-15SE ‘Silent Eagle’ or Sukhoi Su-35 ‘Super Flanker’. Savings up to ~$10 billion.
  • Discontinue Surface Combat Vessels.  Surface naval combatants have been obsolete for decades due to the ever-improving capability of anti-ship missiles. Australia should cancel the new Destroyers, Frigates & Corvettes and replace all vulnerable surface combat ships with more survivable and cost-effective diesel-electric submarines. Savings: Over ~$20 billion.
  • Cheaper Submarines.  China recently bought eight ‘off the shelf’ super-stealthy diesel-electric Submarines for $US 1.6 billion while Australia is considering spending $3 billion on each of its new submarines. Australia should buy off-the-shelf submarines saving $1 – $2 billion each.
  • Cancel the Large Assault Ships.  Instead of the slow and vulnerable large assault ships Australia should buy the much cheaper and faster Tasmanian-built INCAT catamarans. These are quite sufficient for operations like helping East Timor. Savings: ~$1 billion.

The population of Australia represents 0.33 percent of the world´s total population yet, in 2013, we provided 1.4% of the world’s total military expenditure ($1.747 trillion).   However, all this spending has not bought us security. Because the spending is all on the wrong sorts of equipment, Australia is becoming more vulnerable than ever before according to some experts, including a former Defence Department analyst, Liberal MP Dennis Jensen who launched an extraordinary attack on the Abbott government’s multibillion-dollar purchase of fighter jets, suggesting his colleagues lacked the competency and the courage to stop the order.

I do not pretend to understand all the nuances of military interaction around the world but it seems such a ridiculous waste of resources.  I will leave the final word to John Lennon.

How many children’s lives will Tony’s jets cost?

Despite the tragedy of gun crime and the seemingly never-ending massacres in the USA, most Americans are against any changes to their gun laws. Even the most moderate individuals believe they must own a gun to defend their family and property regardless of the fact that they have never had to actually use it. The fact that they have a gun sitting there is security for them and a deterrent for would be attackers. Perhaps their society has deteriorated so far that this is their reality – it is certainly their mentality.

They have the same ‘deterrence’ mentality when it comes to their defence forces. They are the biggest and the best. They see themselves as the world police and this is no doubt true to a large degree, even if you disagree with their policing methods and targets.

The Washington foreign policy establishment is accustomed to the authority, prestige, and privilege of being the overwhelmingly dominant power on the planet. There are politically powerful military contractors that also have a voice in U.S. foreign and military policy. But is it really necessary?

The U.S. lost most of its influence in Latin America over the past 15 years, and the region has done quite well, with a sharp reduction in poverty for the first time in decades. The Washington-based International Monetary Fund has also lost most of its influence over the middle-income countries of the world, and these have also done remarkably better in the 2000s.

There is a widespread belief that if the United States does not run the world, somebody worse — possibly China — will. Using a purchasing power parity (PPP) basis, China will displace the U.S. as the world’s largest economy this year. The money that China needs to build a fighter jet or pay military personnel is a lot less than the equivalent in dollars that the U.S. has to pay for the same goods and services, and they have 1.3 billion people.

So should we be worried?

China is a rising power, but the government does not seem to be interested in building an empire. Unlike the United States, which has hundreds of military bases throughout the globe, China doesn’t have any. The Chinese government seems to be very focused on economic growth; trying to become a developed country as soon as it can. Their standard of living is generally lower and they have a long way to go to become a rich country so are most unlikely to start a war that would cut off their markets and supply chain.

According to the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute, in 2012 the US spent over $682 billion or 4.4% of GDP on defence. Globally, $1.756 trillion was spent on defence with Australia contributing 1.4% of that – some $26.5 billion or 1.6% of GDP.

Even though we have been told that the country has a budget emergency and that everyone must face cuts and contribute to improving our fiscal position, there will be no cuts to defence spending. Quite the contrary, the Coalition wants defence spending to be doubled to $50 billion a year within a decade and have commissioned yet another white paper.

Senator Johnston wanted academic and noted commentator Alan Dupont to write the report, and Mr Dupont had begun work in the Defence Department and had assembled a team to work on the document. However, the appointment was never confirmed and “The Prime Minister’s Office” decided that the white paper would be written within the Defence Department as John Howard had done previously.

Senior sources have said that even a defence budget of $50bn by 2023 could not afford the defence force outlined in the 2009 white paper, and confirmed in its 2013 successor. I doubt this year’s effort will suggest any cutbacks since Tony got a chance to sit in a fighter jet. Asking the defence forces how much they need is like giving a kid the keys to the candy store.

And what do we get for this huge expenditure? Do we really need to send tens of billions of dollars out of our economy to the US for fighter jets or to the Japanese for submarines or to South Korea to say thanks for the Free Trade Agreement? What do our submarines and fighter jets actually do? Why would China invade us when we are happy to sell them the country for a fraction of what a war would cost?

Whatever the internal political systems of the countries whose representation in the international arena will increase, the end result is likely to be more democratic governance at the international level, with a greater rule of international law, fewer wars, and more social and economic progress. There will be more negotiation and less orders.

In 2010, 15.1 percent of all persons in America lived in poverty. 16.4 million children, or 22.0 percent, were poor. In Australia, 17.2% of our children live in poverty. According to UNICEF, 22,000 children die each day due to poverty. And they “die quietly in some of the poorest villages on earth, far removed from the scrutiny and the conscience of the world.”

Homelessness, poor health, hunger—poverty’s consequences can be severe. Growing up in poverty can harm children’s well-being and development and limit their opportunities and academic success. And poverty imposes huge costs on society through lost productivity and higher spending on health care and incarceration.

Some theorists have accused the poor of having little concern for the future and preferring to “live for the moment”; others have accused them of engaging in self‐defeating behavior. Still other theorists have characterized the poor as fatalists, resigning themselves to a culture of poverty in which nothing can be done to change their economic outcomes. In this culture of poverty—which passes from generation to generation—the poor feel negative, inferior, passive, hopeless, and powerless.

The “blame the poor” perspective is stereotypic and not applicable to all of the underclass. Not only are most poor people able and willing to work hard, they do so when given the chance. The real trouble has to do with such problems as minimum wages and lack of access to the education necessary for obtaining a better‐paying job when unemployment is increasing.

I once saw a t-shirt that said “Definition of a Canadian: an unarmed American with health care”. Whilst there is much to admire about America, they are a very different country to us with a very different mentality to us. Letting them dictate to us about defence capability is no more sensible than following their lead on gun laws. We have universal healthcare and free education. They don’t. Let’s not swap our priorities for theirs.

Tony Abbott was in the habit of counting Labor’s deficit in lost “teaching hospitals”. How many children’s lives will Tony’s jets cost?

General Alert

Tony Abbott looking . . . stupid (image by ozpolotic.com)

Tony Abbott looking . . . stupid (image by ozpolotic.com)

Despite diplomatic convention dictating otherwise, in a press conference in Seoul, Tony Abbott continued his bad habit of publicly criticising the previous government for several issues, including their decision to cancel a gun order from South Korea. He has apparently promised, in his obscene haste to sign a free trade agreement, that we will buy armaments from them in the future.

Now I don’t know about you, but I would prefer to spend our money on education, health, action on climate change, the NBN, the NDIS, job creation – those sorts of things – than on buying weapons to help Korea’s economy.

Total world military expenditure in 2012 was over $1.75 trillion. This is equivalent to 2.5 per cent of global GDP. The US spent about $700 billion alone.

China announced a defence budget for 2014 of $132 billion, a generous increase of 12.2% on the year before. That was the official figure, though the real one may be 40% higher still. Japan, Vietnam and South Korea are raising their military expenditure in response to the Chinese military build-up.

Russia’s defence spending will increase by 18% in 2014, and another 33% over the next two years. This is projected to be about 3.4 percent of Russia’s GDP but over 20 percent of government spending.

Defence experts estimate the current Australian defence spending at about $26.5bn this year – or 1.6 per cent of GDP. The Coalition wants to double this to $50 billion a year within a decade and have commissioned, you guessed it, yet another defence white paper.

Minister for Defence, Senator Johnston, originally wanted academic and noted commentator Alan Dupont to write the report, and Mr Dupont had begun work in the Defence Department and had assembled a team to work on the document. ‘Tony Abbott’s office’ (have you noticed how often that phrase comes up) overruled him deciding that the white paper would be written within the Defence Department, as was the case with the Howard government’s 2001 defence white paper. What Defence Department in the history of the world has ever said we need less money?

While we are being told that Labor ambushed the Coalition with unaffordable spending commitments on education and the NDIS in the years beyond the forward estimates we hear this:

“THE Abbott Government is set to give the green light to the nation’s biggest ever military purchase allowing Defence to order up to 86 American made stealth fighter jets for the RAAF.

The planes will cost about $90 million each when they roll off the assembly line between 2018 and 2020 and the overall project will cost some $14 billion during the 30-year life of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter.”

and this:

“THE Abbott government will spend $4 billion buying eight highly-sophisticated P-8A Poseidon maritime patrol planes for the Royal Australian Air Force. The US-built aircraft will be delivered in 2017 to replace the Cold War-era P3 Orion aircraft. The Poseidon will come equipped with torpedoes and harpoon missiles to destroy submarines and warships.”

and this:

“Australia announced plans Thursday for a fleet of giant high-tech unmanned drones to help patrol the nation’s borders, monitoring energy infrastructure and attempts to enter the country illegally.  A report in February said seven of the US-made drones would be purchased for Aus$3 billion ($2.7 billion), but Abbott said the details of how many and when had yet to be finalized.”

It seems we have money to buy planes and drones from the US and who knows what from South Korea, but we have no money for locally made submarines.

“Senator Johnston told the Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference this morning that he was “still working (on) the problem” of what sort of submarines should be built in SA. He also confirmed that building 12 submarines was no longer a Government policy…and that the specific number was now an “aspiration”.

Senator Johnston also echoed Prime Minister Tony Abbott’s stance that building boats was about Defence capability not job creation.”

This seems to be at odds with their previous stance recognising the need for ship building in South Australia.  Perhaps the election result changed their minds.

“The Abbott government is also aware that it needs to make decisions quickly to address the looming so-called “valley of death” in the shipbuilding industry. This refers to the gap in shipbuilding work that will come about when the Air Warfare Destroyer project is complete.”

I am just wondering what we intend to do with all these weapons of war since the only people we are at war with is unarmed asylum seekers. I mean, seriously, does anyone truly believe that China is going to invade us using military force when we are giving them the country without firing a shot? And just what would Tony do if his unmanned drones detected an invasion fleet?

I have respect for our military and the job they do but when we are all being told we must help with the heavy lifting (instead of rising on the promised tide) how about we spend some of those billions on productive things rather than new toys for generals and admirals.

 

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