23 Feb. 2008

Rudd Set To Slash Defense Spending

Rudd's razor gang is set to scrap multi-billion dollar defence projects including the $6.6 billion Super Hornets. Thank God, at last. Maybe now we can review the farcical idea that the Coalition is always strong on national defense:
Other defence white elephants in the Government's target include the Abrams tank, three massively expensive air warfare destroyers, two huge amphibious carrier ships, dud Seasprite helicopters, unnecessary flying drones and $16billion worth of undeveloped F-35 joint strike fighters.

Work will begin this week on the 2008 defence white paper, the biggest review of Australia's defence priorities since the 9/11 terrorist attacks in the US. It will reassess the Howard government's policy of spending $50billion to build a defence force that fits seamlessly into the US military machine.

Also just getting under way is a month-long inquiry into whether Australia needs 24 F/A-18 Super Hornets to plug a gap between the retirement of the F-111s and the arrival of the F-35s in 2014. It could cost $400million to cancel the order.

Professor Hugh White, head of Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said many of these "white elephants were designed for major battles that Australia was unlikely to be involved in".

"The Abrams tank was designed to battle Soviet tanks pouring across Europe," Professor White said. "We are paying $2billion for two big amphibious transport ships which carry helicopters, 1000 troops, the Abrams tanks and were designed to invade with massive force. Where would we use them? We would do much better with four smaller vessels."

Paul Dibb, a former defence department chief, warned recently that defence chiefs had got what they wanted far too easily and big savings could be made in the projects.

"The only time a nation's defence budget should be untouchable is when there is a clearly and imminent military threat to the country. Evidently that is not the case now," Mr Dibb said.

The first multibillion-dollar white elephant to get the axe could be an $8.1billion navy plan to build three air warfare destroyers. They are designed to protect fleets, and Australia doesn't have one.

A similarly complex project to upgrade four Adelaide class guided missile frigates was labelled a "nightmare" by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd. After four years and $1.4billion, the ships still can't be cleared fit for active service and have not been allowed to be deployed to risky zones such as the Middle East.

The two amphibious transport ships costing $1billion each could also be heading for the chop. The Rudd Government believes neighbouring nations would feel threatened as the ships could hold an invasion force.
I think what all these massive cockups show is that Howard was never really interested in the realities of military defence from any imaginable threats to our country. He was only ever interested in the financial gains (and political posturing) that come from dealing with the US military machine and their political representatives.

The same thing goes for the ludicrous "War" on terror. It's now blatantly obvious that the whole farce has made every country involved into a more dangerous place, at a cost of billions to taxpayers around the globe. And yet the con-artists behind this "war" continually ignore seemingly important issues, like capturing Bin Laden or providing more than bandaid security to ports and other potential "targets", because the truth is they know the whole thing is a joke. They don't really care. It's just a money-making exercise for them and their mates.

So bravo, Kevin Rudd! Now don't let those nasty US visitors twist your arm...!

In other news, however, the Rudd government is still going to dole out money to oil giants:
Energy Minister Martin Ferguson has indicated the federal government would offer incentives to help producers pay for expensive exploration projects.
The money would be better spent on exploring alternative energy supplies, or funding subsidies for existing alternatives.

What happens to Kev's carbon reduction targets if we DO discover another big oil field?

It's not like the massively wealthy oil giants really need this kind of government money to help them find new resources to exploit: this is just another form of scam.