Increased military expenditure unjustified; social needs must be paramount.

The government’s $279 billion allocation over 10 years to military spending is not justified by fear-mongering and is at the expense of health and other urgent social needs.

The aim to project military power in our region does not contribute to our security but to militarisation of our region in contradiction to peaceful relations to mutual benefit which should be the aim of our foreign policy.

Scott Morrison’s government has made further increases in defence spending raising it to $270 billion over the next 10 years.

The justification for this increase is based on abandoning the 2016 Defence White paper’s assessment that Australia faces no military threats in the foreseeable future and instead claiming Australia is facing a threatening scenario similar to the 1930s leading up to WW2. This foreboding claim is not based on tangible evidence but on “grey zone “threats and activities which are undefined.

A better understanding of the rationale for this increased expenditure is gained from the defence department media release and fact sheets.

They indicate Australia has to provide ‘security’ over areas to the northeast, north and northwest including southern pacific. It could be argued that this means that the United States has allocated to its deputy sheriff, Australia, more responsibility in this area to assist in the containment of China and denial of access to the area by China which is the primary aim of United States foreign policy.

We should question whether taking on this role is in the best interests of the Australian people and whether this large expenditure of public funds to the loss of many urgent social needs can be justified.

I see value in commitments which this new defence policy makes to the manufacture and supply of more military supplies and equipment within Australia. The creation of jobs in providing self-reliance in the supply of basic military equipment needed for the continental defence of Australia would be of long term benefit.

However, the production and purchase of equipment to project military power into the region are not in the best interests of the Australian people irrespective of whether it is produced within Australia.

Projection of military power into the region including the deployment of long-range missiles smacks of ambitions to be a sub-imperial power whilst actually complying with United States foreign policy for maintenance of its presence in the area. This is not a plan to promote Australia’s security or peaceful relations with countries in our region but contributes to a more militarised region with the potential for an incident or accident to escalate into large scale military hostilities.

The Prime Minister has painted a future of fear and foreboding in order to justify this large increase in defence expenditure when reality does not support such an assessment.

Further, this increased expenditure supports military power projection into the region by Australia when the government should be investing in a beefed-up diplomatic service to pursue more effective diplomatic relations with all countries in our region seeking peaceful relations with them and trade to mutual benefit.

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Bevan Ramsden is an ex-telecommunications engineer and a long-time peace activist and advocates for Australia’s independence. He is a member of the coordinating committee of the Independent and Peaceful Australia Network) IPAN).

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