GLW fighting fund: Money for social justice not couches for bureaucrats!

March 13, 2010

Well, now I really feel safe. The Australian defence department has finally started to buy up vital necessities to protect this country. Oil paintings, comfy handmade chesterfield lounges, memberships to exclusive golf clubs… You name it; our defence department now has it. I guess you can't underestimate the usefulness of a well-rested backside and a perfect golf swing during hand-to-hand combat.

These purchases are among $48 billion worth of contracts reported by the Defence Department since 2006, a recent investigation by the Sydney Morning Herald found. The report also exposed phantom contracts that were unknown to the companies that "won" themm SMH said on March 10.

One such contract included $30,000 spent on "stuff".

Then we find out that the defence department is paying French arms company Thales $93 million a year to maintain factories that produce "increasingly irrelevant items", the Australian National Audit Office found.

Perhaps they should have spent that money on couches — at least they are useful.

But it's not just these extravagances that must end. The Rudd government has committed to spend tens of billions of dollars on Joint Strike Fighters, air-warfare destroyers, new submarines and more. These are supposedly to deal with looming threats such as global warming, terrorism and regional power shifts.

But will they "deal with" terrorism or create the conditions for more? And how exactly is military hardware supposed to deal with global warming? Here we were, thinking money spent on renewable energy and public transport might be more effective.

We need mass, grassroots action to demand money be spent on socially useful things. Not new Joint Strike Fighters or more submarines — and certainly not comfy couches and "stuff" for defence department bureaucrats.

There is no military threat facing the Australian people, but there is a very real threat from dangerous climate change. The billions of dollars being squandered in the defence department should be spent on a socially just transition to a low-carbon economy. That would be defending us against a real threat.

Please consider donating to Green Left Weekly to help us organise such grassroots action. So far this year we've raised just over $30,000, but this is only one tenth of our $300,000 Fighting Fund. Help us catch up by donating online today. Or direct deposits can be made to Greenleft, Commonwealth Bank, BSB 062-006, Account No. 00901992.

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