Governments are best judged not by how they seem but by what they actually do:
CHRIS UHLMANN…: …Kevin Rudd…in 2007…promised to keep Defence spending at two per cent of gross domestic product and increase it at three per cent above inflation for nine years.
KEVIN RUDD, PRIME MINISTER: To maintain real defence expenditure into the future by at least three per cent real annually out to 2016. At least three per cent real annually out to 2016.
CHRIS UHLMANN: Today he reaffirmed part of that pledge.
KEVIN RUDD: Our objective remains to Defence expenditure at two per cent of GDP.
CHRIS UHLMANN: That might be the Government’s objective but it’s utterly at odds with its deeds. Between 2009 and 2013 about $20 billion of promised funding was cut from the Defence Budget as Labor scrambled to build a surplus. Defence spending has fallen from about two per cent to 1.6 per cent of gross domestic product, its lowest level since 1938.
A very Ruddish story.
Now, despite the cuts, Rudd makes a $6 billion promise – to move the naval base from Sydney to Brisbane – that doesn’t actually give the defence forces any extra capability Greg Sheridan:
(T)he key problem is that the move especially from Garden Island to Brisbane would cost in itself a vast amount of money. This is an irresponsible new commitment because Labor’s defence budget cuts means there is an urgent need right now to remediate our capabilities.
We do not have enough money to run our existing kit. Our patrol boats are breaking up through over use. There is no chance we will have any new subs before the mid-2030s. We need new supply ships….
So into this environment of declining capability and funding shortfalls, Rudd injects a grand new proposal without any costings and without the slightest attention to all the urgent tasks that confront defence.
Defence was not consulted on Labor’s high-powered taskforce to look at moving major navy facilities from Sydney to Queensland, it emerged on Tuesday…
(Mr Rudd) avoided direct answers on whether Defence – either the department or the uniformed forces – had been directly consulted about the plan. He said only that the government had been ‘’in deep consultations through the Defence Minister [and] … with all the relevant ministers within the government’’. Fairfax Media understands the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet, not Defence, worked on the proposal.
Andrew Bolt’s columns appear in Melbourne’s Herald Sun, Sydney’s Daily Telegraph and Adelaide’s Advertiser. He runs the most-read political blog in Australia and hosts Channel 10’s The Bolt Report each Sunday at 10am. He is also heard from Monday to Friday at 8am on the breakfast show of radio station MTR 1377, and his book Still Not Sorry remains very widely read.