$270 Billion Campaign

No security and few jobs
in Morrison’s $270 billion war preparations

Australia is embarking on the 21st-century version of a Cold War weapons build-up, emphasising submarines and other naval assets, intelligence, satellites and, for the first time, long-range missiles for use away from Australian shores.

There are compelling reasons why diplomacy, rather than sparking an arms race, is the best way to achieve security for the Australian people. While defence of a state is necessary, the cost can be too high (economically, socially, democratically, environmentally, etc.). An impoverished nation has little or nothing left worth defending.

Security is often interpreted to mean military security — the capacity to identify and meet perceived threats to a nation by military means, by the use or the threat of the use of force. However, Australia’s true security would be enhanced by attention to economic recovery, social cohesion and humanitarian issues. Resources committed to developing the military mean less money for employment programs and the health, education and housing needs of Australians and our neighbours.

If the Morrison Government is planning on a weapons-led economic recovery, they are wilfully blind to the realities. The avoidance of deep recession will require massive stimulus spending on people and projects, not weapons

A McKinsey report in 2010 found Australia’s military spending was among the least efficient in the world. In a list of 33 major countries, we tied with the United States for worst at getting value for our Defence dollar. A 2010 Defence audit report on explosives procurement, for example, documented poor budgeting practices, poor lines of responsibility, poor contract management, and poor project administration.

According to Ray Morgan in the second half of March unemployment jumped a staggering 1.4 million to 2.4 million (16.8%) and under-employment increased 374,000 to 1.52 million (10.6%). But spending on the military rather than civilian areas of the economy results in a net loss of jobs.  This is because military spending is less effective at creating jobs than virtually any other form of government activity.

US research documents that, for example, a billion dollars spent for military purposes creates one and one-half times fewer jobs than spending on clean energy production and two and one-half times fewer jobs than spending on education.

In addition, more of the military dollar goes to capital than to labour than in other job categories.  For example, only 1.5% of the price of each F-35 Joint Strike Fighter pays for the labour costs involved in “manufacturing, fabrication, and assembly” work at the plane’s main production facility in Fort Worth, Texas.

It is time the Morrison Government got its priorities right.

We must ask the question what is best for
the people of Australia and the region
in a time of pandemic?
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