Measuring the adequacy of defence investment over the very long timescales needed

Comparing expenditures on all the major governmental responsibilities remains the best way to measure their respective adequacies over time. Defence, however, is the only major national responsibility wholly funded federally. Accurate comparisons therefore rely on measuring both Commonwealth and State-Territory expenditures (and rates of increase) in the other major areas. Defence investment also generally requires the longest timescales. Sustaining the necessary investment over such long periods means continually having to face competing short-term budgetary trends driven by societal complacency or apathy at any one time, and politically expedient electoral desires most of the time.

 

Letter to The Canberra Times 
Wednesday, 20 May 2015
(published Monday, 25 May 2015)

Rather than address the serious inter-generational inequity issue raised by the Australia Defence Association, Bronis Dudek (Letters, May 20) offers a straw-man diversion about GDP percentages

Anyone who keeps up with defence debate would surely know that the ADA has long criticised the bipartisan consensus on defence eventually “getting” two per cent of GDP.

Or that we continually point out that GDP percentage is really only good for trendline comparisons between countries.

The ADA has instead always argued that the ongoing adequacy of any national investment is best measured by comparing budget allocations and their rates of increase over time.

But in the case of defence — as the only major governmental responsibility wholly funded federally — such comparisons must also account for national expenditures by both the Commonwealth and the States on debt interest, social security, health and education.

Finally, adequate and sustained investment in national defence infrastructure is essential to mitigate general strategic risk over rolling three to five decade periods, not just to counter overly-specific “threats” as they are perceived or not by some now — usually mistakenly or complacently.

Just as other infrastructure investment is needed in dams, roads, ports and communications to also enhance future community safety and prosperity.

Understanding and actually debating the issues would help attempted critics of the ADA’s independent, non-partisan, public-interest watchdog advocacy to lift their game.

 

 

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