On the 29th of March, Treasurer Josh Frydenberg unveiled the 2022-23 financial year budget, the fourth budget delivered by the Liberal-National Party government under the leadership of Prime Minister Scott Morrison. Included in this budget were commitments of $10 billion for cyber security, and $38 billion to increase the size of the Australian Defence Force to 80,000 defence personnel.
However, the Morrison government does not have a good record on defence, and has wasted billions of taxpayer dollars because of it. If this defence spending is to be done, it should not be carried out by the Morrison government, given its support for the USA’s military-industrial complex.
On 15 September 2021, the AUKUS military alliance was announced between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States of America. On the same day, Scott Morrison reneged on a $50 billion submarine contract with the Naval Group defence contractor, which is owned by the French government. In 2016, the LNP government, then under PM Malcolm Turnbull, announced that Australia would be purchasing 12 diesel-electric submarines from Naval Group, to replace Australia’s 6 Collins-class submarines. The cost of this program would eventually increase to $90 billion.
However, Morrison decided that working with the US and UK on nuclear submarines would be a better option. Canceling the contract with France will cost us $5.5 billion. I am inclined to agree with Labor Senator Penny Wong, who criticised the government for effectively buying “non-existent submarines.” At a time when Australia’s economy has been stretched thin by Covid, and with government debt at around $1.5 trillion, the Morrison government has wasted Australian dollars by canceling an existing contract, instead preferring to make the American military-industrial complex richer. France was understandably frustrated by this, with President Emmanuel Macron saying that Morrison had broken his trust. This foreign affairs disaster demonstrates why the Morrison government’s credentials deserve better scrutiny when it comes to defence. But this isn’t the only time that Morrison gave money to the military-industrial complex at the expense of taxpayers.
On 10 January 2022, just months after the creation of AUKUS, the Morrison government spent $3.5 billion on 127 tanks and other military vehicles from the USA, including 75 M1A2 Abrams tanks, which would replace 59 M1A1 tanks. This is part of a commitment by the Australian government, under Morrison, to spend up to $42 billion on tanks and other vehicles over the next few years.
These M1A2s will not be deployable until 2025. The strategic use of these tanks is also questionable, given that Australia hasn’t used tanks in war since the Vietnam War. Furthermore, the M1A1 tanks were only purchased in 2007, and all iterations of the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank remain some of the best tanks ever made.
If the Australian government is worried about a war with China, it makes more sense to purchase submarines, or other warships and aircraft, which would be more useful in a defensive war. It is easier to stop the Chinese from landing than to stop them once they have landed. China’s ability to build artificial islands in the Pacific demonstrates that Australia’s deserts will not pose much of a logistical challenge. Therefore, these tanks are likely to either not be used at all, instead serving as shiny new toys for the government, or are simply to be used to fight America’s wars.
The Morrison government has also awarded a $1 billion contract to the Australian branches of American military-industrial complex giants Raytheon and Lockheed Martin. In the name of developing sovereign defence capabilities, in March 2021 the Morrison government announced the Sovereign Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance Enterprise, with the contract with Raytheon and Lockheed Martin announced on 4 April 2022. Although it has been claimed that this program will lead to “self-reliance and resilience” for Australia, it will do anything but that, increasing Australia’s reliance on America and its military-industrial complex.
Morrison has followed up this missile contract on 6 April 2022 by announcing that AUKUS will be launching a joint hypersonic missile program. The US has expressed concerns over hypersonic missile programs in Russia and China. This program will likely be led by the US military-industrial complex. It will also make Australia be unnecessarily seen as a threat by Russia, because of our association with America over this.
The Australian government, under the leadership of Scott Morrison and the LNP, has increased Australia’s reliance on the USA, at the expense of damaging relations with countries like France. By relying on the US military-industrial complex, the Morrison government has made Australia dependent on US foreign policy, putting all of Australia’s eggs in one basket. With the rise of other nations, including Russia and China, America’s status as the only superpower is being challenged, so is it really wise to become so dependent on America and its military-industrial complex?
And we wonder why Australia is often considered to be America’s 51st state.
Stuart Jeffery, aka LibertyDownUnder, is the founder of the Australian Liberty Network. He is also the host of the Gumtree of Liberty and Gumtree of Liberty Live podcasts, and is editor of the Liberty Review. Stuart is currently studying a Bachelor of Laws and Bachelor of Arts, majoring in international relations, at the University of Southern Queensland.