For a party that was so good about message discipline in opposition,
you’d really think the government would be able to get its story straight on a
day to day basis. But after several weeks of the treasurer preparing the
country for financial pain because we have a budget crisis or something, today
began with the news that we are going to be spending twelve billion dollars on
fighter jets. We also know that the budget for the fighters may well blow out
and that there is some debate as to whether they’re even any good. Then the day
ended with the treasurer warning that Australia has a serious spending problem. The satire writes itself.
In fairness, this purchase has been in the pipeline since the Howard
government but there’s no reason why the current government should consider
that commitment sacred when they do so for few others.
It goes without saying that $12,000,000,000 is a lot of money but it
might be informative to look at this spending in terms of spending the
government wants to cut.
88 Medicare co-payments for every person in Australia*
16 years of funding for the CSIRO without any budget cuts**
9.8 years of funding for the ABC***
531,396 first class return Qantas flights from Sydney to New York
for a spoilt foreign minister
Now I’m not saying that national defence isn’t important too. But if
there really is a budget crisis beyond a pretext for an ideological reluctance
to help people, it leads one to wonder why such a purchase is a priority in
these tough times. Talk of ‘maintaining superiority,’ only makes me wonder
over whom and why?
Still, if our prime minister keeps insulting our neighbours the way he has been recently, perhaps military spending is going to have to take precedence over welfare, health care and research after all.
* Based on 2012 census data. ** I accept that over that time, inflation may require funding to be
increased. Adjust that figure accordingly as you see fit. *** Ditto.