The Australian Greens today welcomed the Federal Government's decision to bring forward the next Defence White Paper by one year, but questioned the extraordinary $40 billion proposal for a fleet of submarines.
Greens spokesperson assisting on defence Senator Scott Ludlam said, "The 2009 White Paper was directionless and bloated, and included a hardware wishlist that was never credible. It was also startlingly undiplomatic, particularly towards China, and sidelined the findings of its own Community Consultation process."
"Public support for increased defence expenditure fell by more than half between 2000 and 2008, with only 30 percent of Australians supporting an increase in June 2008 down from 75 percent in 2000. Yet in 2009 the government proposed $146 billion of additional expenditure, projecting $308 billion for Defence over the next decade. If the government had conducted a genuine community consultation process and listened to the advice received, we might not have needed to fix the 2009 White Paper so soon."
"Unsurprisingly the White Paper consultation process was more interested in the views of the defence industry, given that it was chaired by a board member of a major weapons manufacturing company."
"The Joint Strike Fighter project is a white elephant - Australia should cut its losses. Now reported to cost $16 billion for one hundred aircraft, projected costs rose from $50 million per airframe in 2002 to more than $120 million in 2011. The costs are still going up and no-one can tell when they will be delivered. Australia should look to other, less costly options.
"Similarly with the 12 submarines now proposed to cost $40 billion: the Prime Minister has announced that it will cost a staggering $200 million just to make up our minds what to do.
"It's strange that where defence spending is concerned, the government's rhetoric about fiscal responsibility evaporates. If there is to be an honest rethink of the White Paper, we should look to genuine 21st century security needs and divert some of this senseless overkill to more productive ends," Senator Ludlam concluded.