Absurd figures claimed about supposed levels of defence investment compared to national spending on each of social security, health and education

Yet more polemical claims that investment in our defence infrastructure is somehow much greater than national spending on social security, health and education when the actual figures completely reverse such comparisons, in each case, by huge margins.


Letter to The Canberra Times 
Monday, 06 April 2016
(published Thursday, 14 April 2016)

In an unfortunately common but significant comparative mistake, Peter Hill (Letters, April 6) ignores that defence is constitutionally the only major area of government that is wholly funded federally.

He further claims that we somehow have "billions of dollars for ... submarines, but no money for hospitals and schools".

Whereas overall national spending on social security, health and education already far exceeds total investment in defence capabilities at ratios around 7:1, 5:1 and 4:1 respectively.

Peter's concern about "armaments" spending is also wildly exaggerated as the annual amount invested in re-equipping the ADF comes in at around 4-6 weeks' worth of social security spending alone.

The worst inter-generational inequities facing our descendants are instead the eventual greater strategic risk — and commensurate large catch-up costs financially — we are inflicting on them by not paying our fair share now of the sustained investment our national defence infrastructure needs over a very long timescale.

Peter also oddly claims that Australia "spends more on armaments than any comparable country". 

As Australia is a large, sparsely-populated, island-continent with strategic, sovereignty, conservation and search & rescue responsibilities for some ten per cent of the Earth's surface, which countries are supposedly comparable and how?

And what robust contextual bases, per-capita figures and relative spending power criteria, if any, did he use?

Finally, why does he not factor in the obvious need for prudence when hedging against strategic risk over a likely quite uncertain next half-century? 

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