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Military budget on the rise under Labor

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Editorial by Dr Alison Broinowski

We all know about lies and statistics and wars. This month, the Government outdid itself and its predecessors by committing in the budget to increase military spending to $48.7 billion, just under 2 percent of GDP. And that’s without even counting the cost of AUKUS.

Defence Minister Richard Marles twice foreshadowed and then announced Australia’s intention to send 70 ADF personnel to Britain to train Ukrainian troops. To do what we don’t yet know, for how long, or at what cost. But Russia has already said that such activities by EU countries will make them, and presumably Australia too, combatants in the Ukraine war.

Australia shows every sign of mission creep, familiar to everyone old enough to remember Vietnam, Afghanistan, and Iraq. Bipartisanship means that the process perpetuated by the Coalition continues under Labor.

By making good the ALP’s promise of an inquiry into how Australia goes to war, Marles may satisfy those not paying attention, but the process can easily be derailed. The sub-committee will report, the JSCFADT will recommend, and the Government may move, and the Parliament will or will not pass, an amendment to the Defence Act.

Success will only be achieved in this long process if we end up with a debate and a vote in the Parliament. to end an anachronism that began before Federation.

Just as well we aren’t at war, yet.

Propaganda to advance the case for war, and to resist war powers reform, is already building. Under the new leadership of Michael Green, former head of the National Security Agency, the US Studies Centre on 26 October reported on its sampling 1068 Australians.

A majority responded that it was good for Australia to have nuclear-powered submarines, and 46 percent supported Australia sending the military to defend Taiwan against an attack by China. But only 27 per cent wanted the number of US forces in Australia to increase.

War in our region is already expected. Peter Dutton as Defence Minister found it ‘inconceivable’ that Australia will not join a US war over Taiwan.

Marles, in opposition, wanted that option kept wide open. Neither appears to consider the disastrous outcome of such a war, nor to explain why it is in Australia’s interests to be involved in it. Neither discusses AUKUS, nor invites informed opinion about it. If there’s ever been a time for the people’s voices to be raised against the creep to war, it is now.


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