Antinuclear

Australian news, and some related international items

Scott Morrison has no plan for the economic growth that would needed to pay for all his touted ”Defence – Security” stuff

 What is Australia building? If the Morrison government were serious about the threat, you’d expect it to have a plan to increase the county’s economic vigour. To generate much greater economic growth, to generate much greater revenue, so that the country can manage the national debt and invest in the transformation of Australian security. In every dimension – in cutting-edge research and development, in military capability, in diplomacy and economic assistance. As well as the next generation of submarines.

Security money must match our political posturing, SMH, Peter HartcherPolitical and international editor 25 Mar 22,

The Morrison government’s favoured election policy themes will be the showpieces of next week’s federal budget. They are twofold. The Coalition claims to be the better party to build a stronger economy. And to strengthen national security.

But the two are not separate. A nation’s economic strength is the essential feedstock for its military power. It’s not the only element. It is an indispensable one, however: “States survive by waging wars, and wars are expensive,” point out the American scholars Emily Goldman and Leo Blanken.

One especially topical example. Before the US agreed to last year’s AUKUS arrangement to help Australia acquire nuclear-powered submarines, the Biden administration took a hard look at whether Australia could afford them in the years to come. The US didn’t want to entangle itself in any future Australian budgetary disaster. So judging whether to trust Australia with the so-called crown jewels of US military advantage demanded a judgment on whether to trust Australia to be able to pay for them. Crown jewels are expensive.

Recollecting the internal debate, an administration official told me: “This will be very expensive for Australia, perhaps more expensive than the French subs it will be replacing and there will be maintenance costs for decades.”

It was likely a correct assumption. The lifetime cost of the French conventional subs was estimated to be $90 billion while a preliminary guess at the price of merely acquiring the nuclear subs ranges from $116 billion to $171 billion, including anticipated inflation, according to the Australian Strategic Policy Institute.

The question we asked,” said the US official, “was, ‘Can Australia sustain the cost, which will be a not inconsiderable percentage of national GDP?’ And Australia’s force structure may need to be changed.”

Ultimately, Washington decided that Australia could manage the cost, but it was an act of faith in Australia’s future economic strength……………………………

So what’s the Morrison government’s plan? So far, we have nothing. There is no economic reform plan. Australian productivity growth has been falling for the entire nine-year term of three Liberal prime ministers and is now stagnant.

……………..   the Morrison-Frydenberg reform effort is desultory. And we can safely assume that next Tuesday’s budget will not change this sorry picture. How so? Because the Treasurer tells us he’s commissioned a report from the Productivity Commission to guide the reform agenda for the future.

But isn’t that exactly what the government should do? Well, yes, but it already did it. Five years ago. The Productivity Commission delivered its Shifting the Dial report to the then treasurer, Scott Morrison. Who did absolutely nothing. The commission’s website forlornly notes: “There has not been a government response to this inquiry yet.”

And Frydenberg’s request last month for a new report next year puts it safely on the post-budget, post-election never-never. The request for a new report is merely a fig leaf to cover the government’s studied inaction.

The measures that the government likes to declare as “reforms” are nothing more than housekeeping. Shuffling tax brackets is helpful but hardly transformative. This week’s fanfare about a change in cash flow arrangements for small business paying PAYG taxes is helpful but doesn’t actually cut their taxes. It’s all marginal.

Morrison and his ministers like to emphasise that Australia’s security is facing its most severe test since World War II. And fair enough.

The problems press in on Australia on many sides. The chief scientist, Cathy Foley, last month warned that Australia is at risk of losing its research edge on the serious tech frontier of quantum computing and quantum communication, an area which China has named a national priority with $US25 billion committed for research.

While Australia dithers over a national quantum strategy, China already can send unhackable communications. The signal can’t be intercepted because, in the eerie world of quantum communication, there is no signal. Imagine how that will transform future war. The US is scrambling to catch up.

The inaugural head of the Australian Defence Department’s Space Force, Air Vice-Marshal Catherine Roberts, this week warned that Australia has no way to protect its essential communications satellites from Russian or Chinese attack. If China decided to “take out the NBN”, all Australia could do would be to ask the US for help, she said. “We need to be able to protect our assets in space, otherwise it will change Australians’ way of life.”

…………………………………………   What is Australia building? If the Morrison government were serious about the threat, you’d expect it to have a plan to increase the county’s economic vigour. To generate much greater economic growth, to generate much greater revenue, so that the country can manage the national debt and invest in the transformation of Australian security. In every dimension – in cutting-edge research and development, in military capability, in diplomacy and economic assistance. As well as the next generation of submarines.

To put its security money where its political mouth is, in short. If the government is serious about the security threat, it must be serious about the economic response.The post-pandemic recovery should be a springboard into an economic rejuvenation. Instead, it’s going to be designed as a springboard into an election campaign. The two needn’t be mutually exclusive. But Morrison and Frydenberg are only interested in drawing from the well of national prosperity, not replenishing it…………

. What do Morrison and Frydenberg propose as Australia’s national motto? “Stagnant country, feeble army” perhaps?

Until and unless an Australian government supercharges its economic prosperity to power its security, no Australian government can be taken seriously on either.  https://www.smh.com.au/politics/federal/security-money-must-match-our-political-posturing-20220324-p5a7rm.html

March 26, 2022 - Posted by | AUSTRALIA - NATIONAL, politics

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