Rudd adds billions to war spending

Despite the economic crisis, the Australian government has announced it will increase military spending by billions of dollars over the next 20 years.

On May 2, PM Kevin Rudd and defence minister Joel Fitzgibbon released a new government white paper on defence. The paper, Defending Australia in the Asia Pacific Century, commits the government to increase spending on Australia's ability to wage war.

In real terms, the military will get a funding increase of 3% every year until 2018. After that, military funding will rise by 2.2% each year until 2030. At present, the government spends $22.1 billion a year on the military.

In the white paper preface, Fitzgibbon boasts: "The government has demonstrated the premium it puts on our national security by not allowing the financial impact of the global recession on its budget to affect its commitment to our defence needs."

This largesse contrasts with the ALP government's attitude to wage rises for workers. On January 24, deputy PM Julia Gillard said workers should accept "wage restraint" due to the tough economic times.

She told Sky News: "We obviously want to see an environment of wage restraint. We've made sure, in designing our new industrial relations system that it is focused on building productivity."

On May 2, ABC Online said the government intended to build 12 new submarines and buy three destroyers equipped with anti-aircraft missiles. A further 100 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters and 24 naval attack helicopters would also be bought.

The white paper lists keeping "stability and security in the South Pacific and East Timor", and "contributing to military contingencies in the Asia-Pacific region" as two main concerns.

Instead of increasing spending on things we really need, such as social welfare and renewable energy, the Rudd government is seeking to maintain military dominance in the region. Working people will foot the bill.