I’m sick of this politicking already

Has the federal election even been announced yet?

Sure as shit the campaigning has started – and Defence is featuring heavily on the hustings.

First there’s the $4billion worth of new trucks starting to roll out, then the $20billion continuous ship-building program, then the $50billion submarines announcement, followed by a $2billion maintenance and sustainment program for ANZAC-class frigates, and the first of many blow-smoke-up-their-ass national tours of Defence bases to remind everyone how much is being spent on Defence projects and infrastructure.

And the common denominator and MAIN focus of all these announcement is the benefits accruing to local economies (read ‘electorates’).

The press release below, copied without editing save for the red highlighting for emphasis, is typical of what I’m talking about.

The government seems to be saying that its primary focus and key driver for spending is jobs, economic growth and ‘gilding the lily’ in strategic…..




Aside from casual references to “implementing the Defence White Paper’s recommendations” (which the government wrote), all the spruiking and smoke blowing and ‘substance’ of these announcements – and the numerous follow-on media interviews and ‘door-stops’ – centre on the consequential effects of the spending, not on any of the strategic imperatives that make the spending necessary in the first place.

Don’t get me wrong – I’m 100% behind spending Aussie dollars on Aussie Defence in Australia, even if it isn’t the cheapest option. I’m all for re-building the shipbuilding industry successive Australian governments allowed to die. I’m all for the economic benefits that all this spending brings to the Australian economy.

I’m just sick of the back-to-front arguments politicians, spin doctors and even senior Defence officers cram down our throats to try and sugar-coat the not-insubstantial spending.

When we buy new ships, for example, or an airplane fleet, or a fleet of trucks, we buy them and man them and maintain them because they might be required to defend Australia one day – because they might one day be required to go to war.

And, while those ships or those planes or those trucks could, in the mean time, be used for humanitarian or disaster-relief responses, they were not purchased for that purpose.

Yet all press releases lead with ‘humanitarian aid’ and ‘disaster relief’ when listing the uses of those ships or airplanes or trucks.

Same here. We are building ships and improving infrastructure because they are/may be required to defend our nation.

We do not spend billions of dollars to, “create the jobs and opportunities our region needs to grow and prosper”.

That’s merely a consequence or side-effect, not a ‘coalition commitment’ to the region or electorate.

I’m sick of this politicking already – and the election hasn’t even been called yet!!!!




Assistant Minister for Defence
Federal Member for Riverina

Member for Solomon


NT’s starring Defence role in Government’s focus

Key investment in the Northern Territory’s Defence operations was top of mind for the Federal Government again today as Assistant Defence Minister, Michael McCormack, toured the region’s Defence facilities with local MP Natasha Griggs.

Mr McCormack met with personnel from HMAS Coonawarra, Headquarters North West Regional Force and Headquarters Northern Command based at Larrakeyah Barracks, Darwin, where he praised the region’s distinctive role in the recently-released Defence White Paper.

“At Coonawarra and Larrakeyah Barracks, almost $1.2 billion will be invested in infrastructure upgrades in the decade to 2025-26, with an additional investment of around $2.1 billion towards future long‑term facilities requirements in the decade between 2025 and 2036,” Mr McCormack said.

Solomon MP Natasha Griggs said this investment highlights the Government’s focus on creating jobs and training opportunities in northern Australia.

This is a massive investment in the Territory’s future and will create the jobs and opportunities our region needs to grow and prosper into the future,” Ms Griggs said.

“The Coalition Government is committed to implementing the Defence White Paper’s recommendations and to deliver the infrastructure and jobs proposed for Darwin and Palmerston.”

Northern Command is unique as a joint headquarters, with members from all three services, supported by Defence civilians. It is also the command responsible for supporting the US Marine Rotational Force – Darwin.

“Some 1,250 US Marines are now on the ground in the top-end for the dry season, and they are looking forward to a challenging six months of training and exercises with the Australian Defence Force,” Mr McCormack said.

“In addition to its core role, the North West Regional Force routinely undertakes key community engagement and indigenous capacity building activities, including the delivery of the Army Indigenous Development Program Northern Territory.”

Coonawarra is currently home to a dozen Armidale class patrol boats and provides support to Navy’s fleet and operations in Northern Australia.

Twelve new Australian-built offshore patrol vessels will begin entering service from the early 2020s, replacing the 13 Armidale Class patrol boats currently in service. Some of the offshore patrol vessels will be home-ported in Darwin, and Coonawarra will be further upgraded to support their introduction.

Further information on the Defence White Paper is available here: http://www.defence.gov.au/WhitePaper/










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Posted by Brian Hartigan

Managing Editor Contact Publishing Pty Ltd PO Box 3091 Minnamurra NSW 2533 AUSTRALIA

7 thoughts on “I’m sick of this politicking already

  • 16/07/2017 at 8:19 pm

    Peter, our particular political morons arranged the lease of our only major port facilities closest to Asia to China. I kid you not. The port of Darwin is now in the hands of the Chinese. That may be the reason we have allowed the USA to have a Marine Task Force just down the road , at Palmerston. It’s a mad, mad World.

  • 03/05/2016 at 5:35 am

    If you actually had an electorate interested in defense issues, leading the way with the strategic and tactical importance of the new equipment being acquired by the ADF would be the way to go. But we have a populace that in some instances is actually unaware that we have a defense force, much less the ability to debate the threats and opportunities we face, the strategy(s) we should pursue to respond to those threats and opportunities, and the best equipment purchases to pursue those strategies. Need we be reminded that many people persist in calling HMAS Adelaide and HMAS Canberra “carriers”? Moreover, the ANZAC legend offers politicians and populace an excuse to avoid preparing an adequate defense force for future conflicts; Australia’s stock is good enough to overcome sometimes quite severe deficiencies in strategy, tactics, training, and equipment that prevailed both before and during the early stages of whatever conflict we were engaged in. That such thinking resulted in needless casualties to both combatants and civilians is hardly worth mentioning when compared to the ANZAC glory subsequently won by our defenders. It even obscures the services that returning veterans actually need to re-adjust to their lives post-conflict, much less provoking the sort of thoughtful debate we should be engaged in about future conflict scenarios and needs.
    At the end of the day, we have a population which has largely been schooled into the politics of “what is in it for me?” If we are going to spend in excess of $100billion on new ships, trucks and whatever comes next (self-propelled artillery anyone?) then most tax-payers are going to be more interested in where the money is spent rather than what it is spent on. As such, every government is going to sell the importance of local economic significance over actual military necessity every time.

    • 03/05/2016 at 7:09 am

      Good point, well made.

  • 02/05/2016 at 1:43 am

    Most nations seem to build ships for the last conflict egged on by the admirals of the day who as young Lieutenants dreamed of commanding the weapon of the day. Prior to WW2 the US, U.K. and Japan all built battleships to out gun each other. Germany joined in but Hitler in one of his rare moments of commonsense removed the large guns from his battleships and placed them in fortifications along the Atlantic Wall. All these battleships were built to the detrimate of the weapons that won the war at sea , the aircraft carrier and the submarine. The US submarines decimated the Japanese merchant fleet in the Pacific and the German U Boat nearly won the Battle of the Atlantic. Escort Aircraft carriers beat the U boats and Australia purchased 3 small carriers after WW2 for mainly anti submarine warfare. Ballistic nuclear submarines were the queen of the oceans during the Cold War but these noisey boomers were far to expenceive for Australia. However there was a niche for quiet diesel submarines in the West’s arsenal, and with the US and UK backing Austalia equipped itself with the O boats which were followed by the Collins class submarines. With no naval war to alter their perspective of how battles should be fought at sea the Australian admirals continued to want submarines that they sailed in as young lieutenants there is no innovation, they are living in the past. There are several problems of Australia spending tens of billions on an antiquated weapons system.
    Firstly who are we going to fight with these undersea weapons. Gone are the days when invading armies sailed across the seas in ships today with aircraft capable of carrying hundreds of troops. Invaders of Australia will simply fly over this very expensive weapon system. Using aircraft to move troops over an ocean full of deadly submarines is not a new idea. Over seventy years ago the visionary Howard Hughes built the huge Spruce Goose, an aircraft capable of carrying hundreds of troops.
    Secondly modern Admirals don’t like putting their expenceive “toys” into danger and modern politicians don’t like seeing military casualties. Gone are the days of Nelson sailing straight into the enemy fleet or the Japanese admiral in the Russian Japanese war at the beginning of the last century who attacked and kept on attacking the Russian ships until they were annialated. Both the British and German admirals at Jutland in WW1 were only interested in protecting their precious battleships and both pulled out of the battle before it there was any decisive outcome.
    To preserve lives we need to use drone technology that is far more cheaper and can cover quickly vast tracts of open ocean, much more than any submarine without risking one Australian service man’s life.
    Thirdly where is Australia going to get the submariners to man these 12 submarines. Manning the 6 Collins class submarines is a problem. Submariners are highly skilled and it takes a special sort of person to undertake the job. Each submarine I believe would have a crew of about 40. To keep a submarine operational you need two and a half crews, that’s 1200 submariners to train each costing over $1 million. The highest paid other ranks person in the Australian defence force was not a highly trained SAS soldier but a cook on a submarine.
    I feel Australia has just procured a lot of expensive white elephants.

  • 01/05/2016 at 12:53 pm

    PUHLEEZE!!! You guys are lucky you are down under there! Ifyou were here in the good old USofA you would be rioting in the streets like last night in California. Talk about a clown show! I am 74 and have been voting since JFK, my parents raised me well in civics, we are all FDR LIBERALS, but we know a good man when we see one: George HW (Pappy) bush is a GREAT American, so is Sen. John McCain, both are republicans, and I loath their political views, but they are honest public servants. For all his off-the-job nonsense Bill Clinon was a superior President, but George W! and Jeb Bush are both useless, I now live in Florida, Jeb as bad as he was, was better than the imbecil we have now. Trump sounds good on defense but he has no idea of the working of practical poitics, I lived in NYC for the first 60 years of my life, and if I told you of the well known failings of TheDonald, wou sould ask how he could even aspire to a Presidential nomination. As to Bernie Sanders, Liberal, Socialist, I should be supporting him, but as nice as it would be to have full socialised medicine since I am a senior with multiple health problems, but I have seen the effect of a fully socialistic economy in Eastern Europe, friends in Poland and Czech as well as the USSR. Dreamers are as dangerous as demagogues.
    ps I have been an aero-historian for over 50 years, went through AFROTC, and am an avid airpower supporter, so this is not new to me, I wish you luck with your politcians, but unless they are totally different than ours, I hold out no more hope for you than for us. Just spare the whole world from the likes of The Donald.
    If you ever visit America, do visit us at the HERALDRY OF THE AIR MUSEUM in Daytona Beach, Welcome! PBW/HOTA

    • 01/05/2016 at 1:03 pm

      Hey Peter – you are so, so right!!!!
      I actually do feel lucky with our politicians compared to yours 🙂
      And it sure does seem to be heading downwards fast on your end.

      So again, thank you for that perspective.
      I feel better already 🙂

    • 02/05/2016 at 12:16 pm

      Peter – we have more than our fair share of dickhead politicians as well … maybe not caught in public toilets soliciting homosexual sex or boasting of your Foreign Policy experience because you can see Russia or leaving everything up to god, no wait, we’e got Corey Bernardi for that … shit … but … yeah, we do have the same kind of morons … damnit


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