Australia has reached another low! Australia has saved AU$4 billion on defence spending by delaying some programs, and cutting back on others.
These cutbacks are accross the board and effect Army, Navy and Air Force. Senior defence officials believe that this situation will leave a gaping shortfall in Australia’s defence readiness.
Defence of this country with such a large and often unpopulated coastline needs regular and added funding to be able carry out this task. Defence cutback are not new to this country. It’s been happening for many years! This is a Navy without aircarft carriers or a Fleet Air Arm, an Army with second hand (Abrams) tanks – nearly 50 of these will be mothballed, and an Air Force with aircraft long past their use by date and in dire need of upgrades or replacement. The current cuts are unsustainable. Australia has not had a threat to its sovreignty since WW2 when the Japanese bombed Darwin. This complacency about not being threatened and having no local feasible threats is the impetus for these spending cuts.
No threat? Just look to our immediate north, and there you find Indonesia. With military forces of more than 1 million personnel in uniform, they would form a formidable threat should their relationship with Australia sour. Then of course there is China.
Defence spending is now down to level lower than that spent in 1938 in terms of percentage of GDP. This situation has even had our allies, the United States, suggesting that defence spending is not something that can be turned on and off, when ecomonies are poor. That is an interesting statement as Australia’s economy is in better shape then most countries especially the US and Europe.
Australia will bring troops home from Timor in December, and the mission in the Solomons will end in June 2013. Australians fighting in Oruzgan in Afghanistan’s south are also expected to finish their mission by the middle of next year. This will save further funds.
See Retired Major-General Molan comments on this situation here.