In its first year, the Rudd Government has been the kind of disappointment I expected.
There are bright sides to the picture. The demise of Howard and his mean-spirited club was certainly a breathe of fresh air. Canberra’s environmental policy is now more progressive – although not in any fundamental way. Appalling abuse of the human rights of would-be immigrants has subsided. Some of the more hard-nosed brutality of an incipient police state has receded, for now at least – although as far as I’m aware, all the 20+ anti-Terrorism laws passed by the Australian Parliament earlier in the decade remains in force.
But in too many respects, as expected, it’s been business as usual.
I’ll focus here on just one policy area here: ‘Defense’.
First, a disclaimer.
I use terms such as ‘Defense Budget’ and ‘Defense Minister’ under protest. In more honest times, ‘War’ was the word. But War has morphed into Defense, a term more palatable for the post-modern masses. We are yet, as Orwell suggested, to see the war machine run by a ‘Ministry of Peace’. But we’re heading that way. Real peace itself, of course, remains an elusive dream – mainly because of incessant war-mongering by ‘allies’ in the ‘free world’.
Anyway, back to ‘Defense’… Did anyone notice, shortly before the world’s money markets dived, that Mr Rudd gave an extremely generous funding guarantee to ONE specially favoured area of expenditure?
If not, allow me to remind you. Less than a month ago, the Prime Minister guaranteed that Australia’s Defence Budget will rise by at least 3% a year – inflation-compensated – for the next decade.
That comes on top of very large increases in military expenditure during the Howard years. In effect, Rudd pledged that this one privileged sector of the Federal budget will swell by a third – in real terms – over the next ten years. At minimum.
At a time when everyone (or almost everyone) blithely assumed that Australia’s economy would continue to follow the trend of recent decades and grow by at least a few percent a year, only penny-pinching peaceniks like me seemed to think this is a lousy idea. There was no real public debate at the time.
Almost all the ‘expert commentators’ I heard speaking about it on the media thought the expenditure guarantee was a great idea. Sensible! Essential! Prudent! Glowing adjectives came thick and fast. The Federal Opposition wholeheartedly agreed, but said Government should do more. Long-term bloating of Australia’s military is a bipartisan affair.
But what if the economy goes into deep recession – something that no longer seems far fetched? What then? Will this guarantee be withdrawn? Or is intended that agreement on growing the militarily is now beyond reconsideration or rational debate?
In other words, is Australia’s military bloat an Official News Limited Policy (ONLP)?
If so, then like the presence of American bases on Australian soil and this nation’s extreme one-eyed bias towards Israel, no ‘mainstream’ Australian politicians will ever dare raise a murmur of protest. If it’s ONLP, it becomes another ‘elephant in the living room’, joining all the others. What a crowded living room!
I fear our Military Bloat may indeed be ONLP.
Note, incidentally, that this same ‘Labor’ Government has yet to come up with long-term policies for pensioners. They must await the outcome of a lengthy review. How about major new investments in environmentally-friendly new infrastructure? That also awaits lengthy policy consideration.
So how, one wonders, was possible for the Rudd Government to set firm policy on ‘Defense’ so early on?
Perhaps Local MP Jim Turnour can tell us?
Why is it, Jim, that Far North Queensland taxpayers – along with the rest of Australia – MUST spend more, more and more again on the military, every ten years for the next ten years, come hell or high water?
Please explain how this reflects ‘Labor Principles’? How does it benefit ‘working families’?
And by the way, Jim, does the Government’s willingness to guarantee military growth mean that Australian Governments – starting from this one – aim to be involved in yet more futile, bloody and invasive escapades overseas, in places where we clearly aren’t welcome? How many extra debacles like Iraq and Afghanistan does 3% per annum growth buy?
Can you level with your constituents about that, Jim? Or do you need to ask these questions? If so, how about asking them in Parliament on our behalf?
It’s my personal theory that if Jim Turnour MP ever did ask questions like that, someone might listen.
I notice today that only one person currently follows Mr Turnour’s speeches, courtesy of the excellent website OpenAustralia.org. That’s me! Yet a few weeks ago, I clearly recall there were two of us.
A 50% reduction in two weeks is quite a trend!
It’s a trend I’d like to see emulated in global expenditure on weaponry, surveillance, black ops and military control.
Who knows, we might then find the resources required to feed the hungry, care for the sick and needy – and save our planet’s groaning environment?
Postscript: To keep this article short, I left out much of the context which helps explain my anger and concern about bipartisan support for endless wars and perpetual military bloat.
See A Formula For Endless War: The Wounded Shark, The Quest For Victory and the Illusion of Success, for an explanation of the anti-war world view that I share many others worldwide. It’s a parallel universe to the world portratyed by the mainstream western media.
Here’s a poignant extract:
“You almost never see anyone mention that our enemies are people too. Nobody — at least in the official national discourse — can bear to admit that we’re fighting against the best, the bravest, and the most resourceful citizens of the countries that we have invaded. Nor can anyone admit that they’re fighting against us because we bombed and invaded and destroyed their countries, and stayed — all on false pretenses.“
Anyone interested in an overview of the $ bill for all this vile militarism may be interested in the homepage of the excellent website Global Issues.
Note: This article was originally published in CairnsBlog