A new report by a defence industry has accused Australian MPs of wasting time by “squabbling” over defence industry jobs while “the world is going to hell”.
Dr Mark Thomson, an analyst for the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, says that Australia is employing the wrong attitude towards defence policy in the face of a deteriorating global security outlook. He also points out that the measures taken to preserve jobs in the recent federal budget are threatening the effectiveness of most recent defence blueprint, the Defence White Paper of 2016.
“If you look at the capabilities in the White Paper, some of them will be arriving in the next few years, we’ll be getting the Joint Strike Fighter from the United States for example. But a lot of the big ticket items…they’re really not going to be arriving for another 10 years or so at the earliest and then they will deliver very slowly,” said Dr Thomson.
“In case you missed it, the world is going to hell. Yet we continue as if it’s business as usual, squabbling about whether defence industry jobs will be created in one electorate or another.”
A spokesman from the office of Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne stated that the report would be taken seriously by the government, but hastened to reaffirm that the government is set to meet its defence targets.
“The Turnbull Government is committed to the largest expansion of Australia’s military capability since the Second World War, and of course it will be challenging,” he said.
“The Government’s plan is on track and we are determined to keep it that way.”
However, it is the nature of these aims that are of most concern to Dr Thomson, who has argued that the defence industry and considerations of global security has fallen victim to the ‘jobs and growth’ mantra of this government.
“There’s a lot of debate going on about Defence, but none of it addressing the issue of Australia’s security,” he said.
“We’re running the risk of taking our eye off the ball by squabbling over the collateral benefits of defence spending rather than focusing on the main game of producing capability for the Defence force.”