Budget missed opportunity to slash bloated defence spending
The Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition released the statement below on May 8.
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“Cuts in military spending of up to $5 billion in the budget are a step in the right direction, but the Gillard government has missed an opportunity to enhance Australia’s security and release funds needed for social, infrastructure and environmental projects,” Denis Doherty, national co-ordinator of the Australian Anti-Bases Campaign Coalition, said in Sydney today.
“For too long the military have been quarantined from funding cuts and have been guaranteed an annual increase of 3%.
“It is time complacency and waste are replaced by a realistic reassessment of the economic and political damage done by Canberra’s current defence doctrine and spending,” Mr Doherty said.
“The US has been described as ‘a military giant and a moral pygmy’. By no stretch of the imagination is it in Australia’s interests to assist the US to impose its dominance in the Indian Ocean region.
“Bringing US marines to Darwin, hosting more US war fighting platforms in WA and drones on the Cocos Islands sends a threatening signal to the region, the very opposite of the security and confidence building measures that the Australian government claims to espouse.
“It is a clear signal to China, and also to India, that the US is moving military assets into the Indo-Pacific region which it could use should Washington feel its (not necessarily Australia’s) interests are threatened.
“We should not be surprised if both countries respond by upgrading their own armaments, encouraging an Indo-Pacific arms race that threatens regional security and economic development.
“The result will fatally undermine Australia’s security and international reputation.
“In addition, contrary to the assertions of the arms industry, maintaining military spending at the expense of other forms of federal expenditures will result in a net loss of jobs.
“This is because military spending is less effective at creating jobs than virtually any other form of government activity.
“In addition, more of the military dollar goes to capital, as opposed to labour, than does spending in civilian job categories.
“For example, only 1.5% of the price of each F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pays for the labour costs involved in ‘manufacturing, fabrication, and assembly’ work at the plane’s main production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.
“With over 82% of Australians opposed to tax increases to pay for more military spending, according to the ANU, it is clearly time for the Gillard government to rethink its approach and make more serious cuts in the current bloated $32 billion military budget,” Mr Doherty concluded.