Illogical two per centers still thrive in defence spend debate

Ahead of tomorrow’s release of the Defence White Paper we have this from the prime minister:

Defence spending will reach 2% of Australia’s gross domestic product (GDP), the prime minister, Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed, sticking with a commitment made by his predecessor, Tony Abbott.

Nearly two years ago, Honest History contributor, Paddy Gourley, a former senior public servant in the Defence and other portfolios said this in a piece on our website:

[T]he 2 per cent school moves the burden of defence policy from a careful, detailed analysis of strategic threats and risks to spending a pre-determined bucket of money on equipment and personnel that may or may not be warranted. It can help develop the aircraft carrier mentality, a foolish desire to repeat the Collins Class submarine history or to index military pensions to increases in average weekly earnings, in each case for no sensible reasons.

This comment is as true today as it was then – and then it was said in anticipation of the Defence White Paper that is just now hitting the deck. (The cartoon in Gourley’s pdf is by itself worth the price of admission.)

Baldino and Carr in The Conversation are less concerned about the two per cent target. Ben Eltham in New Matilda believes the two per cent target is ‘gone’ in the White Paper.

24 February 2016 updated



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