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May 2, 2009

What a happy coincidence.

Yesterday, Possum on who voters trust on national defence:

The three historically strong issues for the Coalition – National Security, the Economy and Defence – have all been seriously trending against the LNP since the last year of the Howard government. If they continue trending for just one more polling cycle, it will be the first time ever that an Australian political party is seen as the best party to manage every major policy area.

Today, Greg Sheridan, of all people, likes what the ALP has done in the White Paper, but is concerned about funding.

Joel Fitzgibbon thinks that Australia can afford $100 billion for new defence toys, but doesn't have anything to say about what will be sacrificed in the process.

Malcolm Turnbull thinks it's a bad idea to upset China, particularly just at the moment.

Trevor Cook says it is electorally cynical:

This decision will re-make some of the basic architecture of Australian politics. It turns the ALP into the party of war hawks, outspending the conservatives on defence...In its better times the ALP has been the party of international co-operation and peace, now it’s funding a potentially dangerous arms build-up. That’s profoundly sad, in my view.

The Liberal Party supporters at the Poll Bludger have lost all hope:

What a crying shame. Our last bastion of credibility: national security. What does Turnbull do? Say there are no credible threats. The guy is an idiot.
| Posted by Lyn at 10:38 AM | | Comments (3)


I'd be more impressed with the proposal to build our very own fleet of U-boats if they could explain how they intend to find enough sailors to crew the ones we have now.

Defence policy goes hand-in-hand with foreign policy. The defence philosophy is completely consistent with an intention to stop being Washington's deputy sheriff and become a more non-aligned, independent medium power a la Sweden, South Africa or some of the South American countries. As such I think it's great. Budgetary reality will grind down the more ambitious procurement proposals.

I'm sure the global economic crisis is going to negatively impact on the financing of the more ambitious procurement proposals in the proposed $100 billion arms build -up to defend Australia from a non-existent military threat.

You're right Ken. The RAN can't crew more than 3 of the current boats so its chances of being able to maintain 8-9 in commission at any one time seems doubtful.

It isn't just a matter of recruiting more sailors. Submariners are a special breed. Only a few can tolerate the working conditions and lifestyle.

However, I understand Defence believe they've had to go down that path to regain the strategic punch we're loosing by scrapping the F-111s.

But I believe this is a poor choice. Apart from the crewing issue, subs are much slower than aircraft. A F-111 can be put anywhere in our sphere of influence within half a day. A sub will take days, and the options it gives a more limited.

IMO, the U.S. should have been leaned on a lot harder on releasing 2 squadrons of F-22s (even if that meant taking an export model stripped of the more sensitive equipment/features), or the issue of retaining and upgrading the F-111s revisited.

I am surprised that what I believe may become our most significant security threat - climate change triggered mass migration into higher latitudes - seems to be missing from the WP.

Admittedly, this may only become a major issue in the latter years of the WP time frame, but given the inherent uncertainties could start biting earlier.

I understand there is already significant snow loss in the Himalayas which feed most of the major river systems in the arch from Pakistan to China.