Rudd's commitment to Defence questioned
Posted 7 hours 6 minutes ago
ABC News online
The Federal Opposition says Prime Minister Kevin Rudd's latest ministerial changes create uncertainty for Australia's Defence Force.
Mr Rudd has relieved Greg Combet of the Defence Personnel portfolio to give him more time to concentrate on fixing the failed home insulation scheme.
Veterans Affairs Minister Alan Griffin will take over the role.
Opposition MP Bob Baldwin says he is concerned that both ministers will not have the time to do their jobs properly.
"We are calling on Kevin Rudd to think seriously about applying full-time ministerial positions to the Defence Force," he said.
"The men and women of our Australian Defence Force, people who put their lives on the line for this nation, deserve that."
Mr Baldwin says the Defence Department has had a succession of new ministers while dealing with pay system problems and a new savings drive.
"I question the Rudd Government's commitment to our Defence Force at a time when they are putting [through] the greatest reform programs ever and $20 billion worth of budget cuts," he said.
Combet is talented and hard working.
Swapping and changing personnell in and out of Defence is stupid. It is such a large portfolio that it takes even talented ministers time to get a handle on it.
Moving Combet is bad news.
Defence Personnel is just a supporting portfolio and frankly a waste of Combet's time as a senior minister in all but name only. While having a minister split between Climate Change and Defence Procurement doesn't make much sense such is the way of Government. Having Defence Procurement grow into its own ministerial appointment is a good idea.
Originally Posted by Milne Bay
I had assumed that Greg Combet was being groomed to take Senator Faulkner's place as Defence Minister.
Originally Posted by Gubler, A.
Now I have a high opinion of Senator Faulkner and was pleased that both he and Combet were involved in defence. It seemed that Defence was finally being given the recognition and talent to actually achieve its objectives.
I am very disappointed that Combet is out of Defence. Hopefully he'll be brought back when the Batts stop Burning.
Combet isn't out of defence. He's just handed off a small part of his portfolio.
Implementation of the Defence Strategic Reform Program
(Source: Australian Department of Defence; issued April 7, 2010)
(Note: all monetary amounts are in Australian dollars unless otherwise stated)
The Minister for Defence, Senator John Faulkner, announced today that the Government had considered and endorsed the implementation plan for the Defence Strategic Reform Program (SRP).
“The SRP is designed to give Australia a stronger, more agile and harder-hitting Defence Force. After endorsing the detailed implementation plan, the Government is confident that Defence is well placed to achieve fundamental reform,” Senator Faulkner said.
“The Strategic Reform Program is a major public sector reform initiative. The SRP extends over a decade and engages all areas of Defence. It will change how Defence works in fundamental ways. It will unleash forces of innovation and change. It will achieve $20 billion in cost reductions over a decade from 2009-10, to reinvest in Defence capability.”
Defence is already on track to deliver the $797 million in cost reductions scheduled for 2009-10.
Addressing the Defence Senior Leadership Group in Canberra last Wednesday, Senator Faulkner said, “The SRP is not just about delivering savings and efficiencies. It is an integral component of the White Paper. It is the means by which we will build an organisation capable of delivering and sustaining Force 2030. To be blunt, while we have already started to build Force 2030 through decisions over the past year, achieving it in its full potential will not be possible without achieving the SRP in all its dimensions.”
Senator Faulkner also acknowledged the work Defence had put into developing the full implementation plan.
“The detailed planning work that has been underway since May 2009 is critical to the success of the SRP. I congratulate and thank all those Defence personnel who have worked so hard to develop the implementation plan.”
The Defence Strategic Reform Advisory Board, chaired by an external expert, Mr George Pappas, has been involved throughout the development of the implementation plan.
“The Board gave the Government a high level of assurance that the implementation plan is achievable,” Senator Faulkner said. “The Board will continue to advise me over the life of the Program to assist in ensuring the reforms are being implemented in the way intended by the Government.”
Senator Faulkner called on Defence’s leaders to take what is best in Defence into the future. “Reform will not be easy. We have the opportunity and responsibility to make the SRP a reality. In doing so, we will create the Defence organisation Australia needs to help secure its future.”
Australian Defence Policy Assessment 2010
(Source: Australian Strategic Policy Institute; issued April 21, 2010)
The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) today released a new Special Report providing an overall assessment of Australian defence policy. In three separate essays, the report analyses Australian declaratory policy, the force structure that emerges from the paper, and defence finances.
The report argues that Australia’s latest Defence White Paper is at least as much a political document as a strategic one, intent on rebuilding defence bipartisanship after an era of controversy in strategic policy. Its picture of the strategic environment points to major uncertainties in coming decades and, consequently, to a need for Australia to enhance its own strategic weight. At the core of the assessment lies an especially worrying uncertainty—about the United States’ role in the region.
The military strategy articulated in the White Paper comes down on the side of an Australian Defence Force constructed for the defence of Australia and operations in the ‘immediate neighbourhood’—Timor, PNG, Pacific Islands and New Zealand. But in analysing the associated equipment acquisition and force structure decisions, this report finds that the extra naval weight injected into the White Paper’s ‘Force 2030’ will also strengthen the ability of future governments to contribute to operations with the US in the wider Asia–Pacific arena.
The final essay looks at defence funding over the lifetime of the White Paper and the outlook for Defence’s $20 billion Strategic Reform Program. The conclusions are sobering—current plans for a significant ramp up of defence spending between 2012 and 2017 will present the department with an enormous challenge, and the long-term funding on Force 2030 is likely to prove inadequate for the expansion that is envisaged.
Click here for the full report (20 pages in PDF format) on the ASPI website.
Run for the Hills! ASPI's just woken up............ One wonders which newspaper they have written this for?
ADF Could Face Belt Tightening: Study
(Source: Australian Strategic Policy Institute; issued April 21, 2010)
Defence might have to tighten its belt yet again as the federal government moves to return its budget to surplus as quickly as possible, a new study warns. But it was just possible all or some of the A$8.8 billion in defence spending, deferred in the 2009 budget, could be reinstated.
There were powerful countervailing factors working against that possibility, said Mark Thomson from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) in releasing its analysis of the defence white paper.
"In fact, it's entirely conceivable that defence will be told to tighten its belt yet again, come budget night in May," he said.
The defence budget for 2009-10 stands at A$24 billion with the white paper promising 12 years of 2.2 per cent real growth following three per cent growth for nine years initiated by the Howard government.
On the downside, defence has to come up with A$20 billion of efficiencies over 10 years.
On past experience the rapid defence growth planned for 2012-17 was likely to be unachievable, Dr Thomson said.
There would be a political imperative for the government to return its budget to surplus as a tangible sign of responsible economic management.
The 2009 budget forecast a return to surplus in 2015-16, now brought forward to 2014-15 thanks to improved economic circumstances.
"But what's good news for the government is not necessarily good news for defence," Dr Thomson said.
"The risk (for defence spending) is that the government will limit expenditure so as to bring the budget into surplus in time for the election after next in late 2013 or early 2014."
This would require reducing spending sufficiently to move from deficit to surplus two years earlier than projected.
"Past experience shows that this is far from a remote possibility," Dr Thomson said.
Rod Lyon, the institute's director of strategy, said the white paper pointed to an underlying Australian concern with the future role of the United States.
The alliance with the US retained its position at the core of Australian strategic policy. "But the white paper signals a range of deeply-layered worries about the relationship, exactly because of the centrality of the alliance in traditional Australian thinking," he said.
"Those worries seem likely to last. They're not simply the product of the (previous) Bush administration.
"Indeed, Obama's strategic agenda, which seems to focus on the long-term rebuilding of US power, only increases the need for both nations to consider the way forward, not just for the next six months or one year but for the next 20 years."
Coalition unveils defence policies
April 23, 2010 - 6:59PM
A federal coalition government would consider a stronger role in Afghanistan, says Opposition Leader Tony Abbott.
And it would also buy unmanned aircraft to detect asylum seekers arriving by boat.
Addressing Sydney's Lowy Institute on Friday, Mr Abbott said involvement in both the Iraq and Afghanistan wars was right.
It has deepened Australia's ties with the United States and Britain as well as reinforcing its significance to the world, he said.
But while stopping short of committing precise numbers of troops to the region, Mr Abbott said Australia could and should do more, including taking a lead role in some provinces.
He was speaking during a wide-ranging, 38-minute speech outlining the coalition's defence and national security policies.
"Putting more troops at risk is not a decision that any Australian government should lightly make but the near certainty of higher casualties has to be weighed against the consequences of failing to shoulder extra responsibilities," Mr Abbott told an audience of politicians and business chiefs.
"How fair is it to leave Australia's security so much in the hands of other countries' soldiers? Or expect America and Britain to do nearly all the free world's heavy lifting?
"If satisfied that the role made strategic sense and was compatible with our other military commitments, the coalition government would be prepared to consider doing more.
"Doing more would be a sign Australia was serious about its overseas responsibilities."
The opposition leader said he fully backed involvement in the two wars, saying terrorism and nuclear proliferation were ongoing threats to the West and other nations.
The coalition would aim to increase defence spending by three per cent a year until 2018, as was the case under the Howard government, Mr Abbott said.
It would also back the purchase of new submarines to replace the current fleet, he added.
A commitment was also made to buy three unmanned Global Hawk Surveillance aircraft to aid detection of asylum seekers arriving by boat.
"These aircraft would help to protect the vast oil and gas projects now progressing on the North West Shelf," Mr Abbott said.
"Real-time surveillance and their vast area of coverage should allow much earlier detection and interception of illegal boat arrivals.
"Improved intelligence would also make it easier to track and help boats in danger of sinking."
A detailed defence policy containing fully costed plans to fund capital acquisitions would be released nearer to the federal election, Mr Abbott said.
In other policy announcements, Mr Abbott said a coalition government would ensure at least 1000 places a year are available to school leavers on the Defence Gap Year program, designed to offer young people an insight into life in the armed forces.
The coalition would also match the government's overseas aid commitments but Mr Abbott said spending should be refocused to make maximum impact on tackling poverty.
The coalition would also consider abolishing the International Commission on Nuclear Non-Proliferation and Disarmament, set up by the Rudd government in 2008.
Mr Abbott questioned whether the commission made any useful contribution to Australia's non-proliferation objectives.
Chief of the army Ken Gillespie hadn't heard Mr Abbott's comments but told AAP troop numbers in Afghanistan were sufficient at the moment.
"We know what our mission is and we know what our numbers are and we're doing it pretty well," he said.
He added Australia's commitment was a matter for the government of the day.
"If (Mr Abbott) gets lucky and wins government, he can have a view of what his government might do."
© 2010 AAP
Australia needs 12 large subs for security
Brendan Nicholson From: The Australian November 10, 2010 12:00AM
AUSTRALIA will need 12 big, long-range submarines to help it shape its own strategic future.
The region will be increasingly dominated by China, says Paul Dibb, author of the 1987 defence white paper.
In the wake of warnings about China's growing military power at the Ausmin talks, Professor Dibb will tell a Submarine Institute conference in Perth today it is time Australians took their strategic outlook much more seriously.
"We ignore our own unique strategic geography at our peril in the decades ahead," he will say.
Having a large, more potent submarine force must be a central strategic priority for Australia and there should be bipartisan agreement politically about that, Professor Dibb will tell the conference.
The boats should be built in Australia, he will say, and they should be fitted with powerful long-range weapons such as cruise missiles.
The current white paper has called for 12 long-range subs to be built in South Australia at an estimated cost of $36 billion, with the first of the boats to be operational from 2020.
"Too much of the defence debate in this country is preoccupied with the short term. There is a blindness in Australia towards the need to do our utmost to shape our own strategic future.
"We need to return to the fundamental importance of our strategic geography and focus on the potentially threatening historical changes that are about to occur to the geopolitical landscape in our part of the world."
Professor Dibb will stress that Australia needs a larger submarine force and a potent air force and he will deride the purchase for the navy of two giant military transports.
"We do not require two 27,000-tonne amphibious assault ships that will require protection by most of our surface, sub-surface and combat air patrol forces so they can put a token land force ashore."
By 2030, China could have 100 quiet, modern submarines.
Australia needs a submarine force to protect its interests at sea against increasingly credible adversaries, he will say.
The boats need to be able to fight in a region extending from the eastern Indian Ocean to the South Pacific and from Southeast Asian waters, including the South China Sea, to the Southern ocean. They need to be able to work with allied navies in high-intensity combat.
The US has only 26 attack submarines in the Pacific compared with China's 62.
Well lets hope Dibb is as wrong about his strategic predictions re China as he was about the north west of Australia in the 1980s.