- The Guardian
- Issue #1957
It seems in every facet Australia is inching closer towards transforming into its transpacific cousin, the United States of America. This is all the more apparent with decisions made by successive Australian governments in their approach to military spending in the past decade.
The Abbott government was keen to award $50 bil for a new fleet of submarines with Japan, France, and Germany in the mix for the contract. So eager was then-Prime Minister Tony Abbott to get these submarines he stated that Australia would be receiving them by the late 2020s. According to former Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull, then-Secretary of Defence Dennis Richardson advised Abbott that this deadline was not achievable. Turnbull further commented, stating that Richardson, upon telling Abbott this reality, retorted to “leave the problem for another government.” Before he was dumped as Prime Minister, Abbott entered into an informal agreement with Japan to manufacture the submarines.
However, when Turnbull became Prime Minister, the deal changed. Turnbull awarded France with the contract with the defence contractor Naval Group to design the submarines. Designed overseas, the submarines would be made locally in what was ultimately an expensive ploy by the Turnbull government to win votes. According to Turnbull, the submarines were now due to come in the early 2030s (now 2050s). Additionally, the contract ballooned from $50 bil to $80 bil. As if delays and increased costs weren’t bad enough, the submarines are not even considered up-to-date. The Collins-class submarines are a diesel-electric submarine but have noise problems. Most fleets around the world are nuclear-powered; Turnbull opted to borrow an existing French-designed submarine and modify it to be conventionally powered, leaving many baffled.
The Morrison government, true to this tradition, is plunging more funds into our defence infrastructure. Last month the Morrison government announced that it would spend $1 bil on building a new weapons facility. According to the Sydney Morning Herald (SMH), “the spending will upgrade Australia’s capabilities at a time of rapid advances in guided missiles.” All of this, of course, a response to the fictitious boogeyman – China. In order to “respond to rising powers such as China,” states SMH, “The Australian Strategic Policy Institute estimates the country may have to spend $100 billion on missiles and other guided weapons over the next two decades.”
Speaking to this new weapons facility, Prime Minister Scott Morrison stated: “It’s an imperative we now proceed with the creation of a sovereign guided weapons capability as a priority, accelerating this process following the idea first being explored in the Force Structure Plan.”
Why is it imperative? The only people who are stoking the Cold War flames are those in the US camp, and yet, time and time again, China has refused to engage in any alarmist rhetoric that one could misconstrue as fighting words. The only purpose this spending serves is to US imperialist agenda, in particular against China (and communism generally). That Australia needs to build its defence against this “Big Other” is the narrative used to sell this spending. And yet, from the Cold War until today, not one socialist nation has invaded a sovereign nation, but still, this myth of communist invasion prevails.
What is most sad is this near $200 bil, used for all sorts of weapons, could have been spent in virtually any other sector and would have helped millions in need: education, healthcare, research and development, infrastructure, arts, etc. The ways these funds could have been used are endless, and their benefits immeasurable. Instead, the government has decided to squander it to serve US imperialism and its pursuit of global hegemony.