ADF General discussion thread

Arclighy

Member
Labor was always going to slash defence. It is their raison d'etre. Historical precedent is particularly well documented.
I've been searching for ABS data to support the claim that Labor's primary focus is to slash defense spending, but I haven't found any conclusive evidence. Using defence spending as a percentage of GDP as an acceptable measure, a historical perspective can be attained:

The Whitlam Years:

Defense spending during Whitlam's era was consistent with the previous Liberal-Country Party government post-68, remembering that this was during the wind-down period of the Vietnam War, averaging around 2.4 to 2.5 percent of GDP.

Hawke/Keating after Fraser:

Initially, during the Hawke/Keating years, defense spending exceeded anything achieved by the Fraser Government, reaching about 2.6 percent of GDP for the first five years. It later decreased to 2.1 percent in 1995 due to budget constraints caused by the 1990 recession.
The Howard Years:

The Howard years marked a noticeable downward shift in defense spending. In their first year, it was 2 percent, later averaging in the 1.7s.

The Rudd/Gillard Years:

Initially, defense spending under Rudd/Gillard mirrored the Howard years, peaking near 2 percent in 2010. However, it decreased significantly in the following three years, reaching a low of 1.5 percent in 2013, primarily due to budget cuts after the GFC.

Coalition Governments 2013-2022:

During the coalition's governance from 2013 to 2022, defense spending mostly ranged from 1.6 percent to 1.9 percent, reaching 2 percent in 2021.

In considering figures as reliable as ABS data, the notion that the Labor Party historically slashes defense spending is not particularly well-supported. The coalition, in power for close to 80 percent of the past 25 years, shares a major responsibility for the ADF's current challenges. From my perspective, it's crucial not to dismiss their role by assuming the coalition takes defense more seriously than the Labor Party. The idea that it does is more of a political trope rolled out at every opportunity. Much like the idea that the coalition is better economic managers than Labor, it is basically groundless. (ABC using ABS data. There are downloadable data sets at the bottom of the graphs)
 

Morgo

Well-Known Member
I am putting this article on this general ADF thread rather than the naval one I normally follow because it affects everything.

Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty flagged axing some programs to pay for other DSR requirements. Ouch.

I have said before in my own field (Infrastructure planning) there has been a noticeable slowdown in work since IA announced a review in late 2022. Recently a number of projects were cancelled as a result of that. Strictly speaking it was not a budget cut in Infrastructure. The previous government had added projects without increasing funds, and so the program was cut to match funds.

With the advent of AUKUS without a large increase in defence spending I fear Defence is now in the same boat. Australia’s debt is now 3x larger than it was back in 2012/13 and interest rates have returned to historic norms. So borrowing would cost a lot more now. I expect Defence will need to live within its budget for 2-3 years or until interest rates drop.
Reading between the lines I think what Defence has been tasked with, and what many in industry are probably upset about, is less about cuts to capability, and more about cuts to waste.

To quote Moriarty (emphasis mine):

“The government’s made it very clear to myself and the [chief of the defence force] that it is committed to fiscal discipline and will make the hard decisions to cancel or reprioritise projects or activities that are no longer suited to our strategic circumstances,” Mr Moriarty told the Australian Industry and Defence Network Symposium on Monday.

As has been discussed previously on this thread there seems to be an absolutely tremendous amount of waste going on in Defence, as highlighted into the labour hire / contracting review undertaken by the Department of Finance earlier this year. To refresh, Defence spends approximately $15bn p.a., or $450,000 per head, on external labour, which is a truly extraordinary amount. This is approximately 70% of the total spend across the entire CoA, and almost 1/3 of the total Defence budget. I find it impossible to believe that there aren't significant savings to be had by rationalising this spend, and presumably these are the "activities" Moriarty refers to.

I have no doubt that there are a large number of reputable businesses who are understandably impatient for decisions so they can get on with delivering the capability that Australia needs, but it also doesn't surprise me that some of the vested interests who have benefited from this outsourcing bonanza are complaining about the trough being drained.
 

aussienscale

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
You can talk about percentages all you like, 80% of nothing Vs 90% of nothing is still nothing !!

What counts is actual dollar spending and what capability we then get out of that spending, and majority of Governments since the 80's have been severley lacking, and some more than others, just because you have a percentage of GDP it does not mean you spent it well or got your money's worth out of it !!

The current Labor Government could double their Defence spending, does not mean we would be any better off !! The previous LNP Government did increase the percentage, are we better off ? They needed to fix the neglect of the previous Government and lack of, well basically any action, but was that money well spent ? did we actually achieve anything ? Or are we all just standing in a row doing you know what up against a brick wall ?

We are in some serious strife, the strategic outlook, not just in our own backyard and region, but globally is the worst, one could argue, in the history of the planet, and all any politician can do at the moment is blame everyone else, play games and pretend they are fixing the problem all the while making it worse, when all we need is someone with the kahuna's to get the bloody job done !!

My opinion, so you can take it or leave it, but the current far left Labor Government has no interest or intent on fixing Defence, but are spending a lot of time and money pretending to !! My two cents !! We are going nowhere fast !!
 

ngatimozart

Super Moderator
Staff member
Verified Defense Pro
How can you have land holdings underwater?

Anything that isn't permanently above water isn't legally recognised as an island. It can't have territorial waters or an EEZ. Well, unless China claims it's part of China.
Because it was part of a preexisting natural land mass it is possible that the continental crust / seafloor definition would apply.
 

Armchair

Active Member
We are in some serious strife, the strategic outlook, not just in our own backyard and region, but globally is the worst, one could argue, in the history of the planet, and all any politician can do at the moment is blame everyone else, play games and pretend they are fixing the problem all the while making it worse, when all we need is someone with the kahuna's to get the bloody job done !!

My opinion, so you can take it or leave it, but the current far left Labor Government has no interest or intent on fixing Defence, but are spending a lot of time and money pretending to !! My two cents !! We are going nowhere fast !!
My take is rather different. Australia’s strategic outlook is vastly better than it was in 1941 but it is vastly uncertain now. Even if Australian strategic planners had full access to the plans of every potential adversary and ally the situation would still be utterly uncertain. Nobody knows who will win the US presidential election in 2024, what the health and legal status of the winner in 2026, what will be the state of US governance and social cohesion, and what will be the resulting state of great power relations.

Under these circumstances minor and medium powers hedge their bets. Australia’s bipartisan strategy has been to demonstrate its usefulness to the US by engaging in US-led coalitions in the hope that will generate gratitude in the time of need. That sounds like a stupid strategy (there are no permanent friends only permanent interests a la Palmerston) but it could work due to the vagaries of the US political system. It has (in most cases) been a stupid strategy where Australia encouraged the US to act against the US’s national interests (become embroiled in land wars in Asia).

In terms of hedging military preparations governments of both stripes have invested and held the course on the RAAF. On paper it is a superb small airforce. Governments of both stripes have avoided misusing it for domestic HADR, border protection, or foreign adventures (i.e. It has used RAAF assets extensively in those roles but in ways that are pretty close to their intended use). The mass is too small to be sustained in a major conflict but generally speaking Australian governments have done well with the RAAF (I struggle to think of anything of that scale across the whole of government programs that they have done better). The missing components: medium ( hopefully closer to long) range air defence, loyal wingmen etc are not too far off.

The RAN was on a sound upgrade path after 1999 (rectifying the deficiencies exposed by East Timor). However its major fleet units were trashed by border protection duties. The absolute height of idiocy was reached by ordering only 3 air warfare vessels (both sides of politics share blame for this). 3 DDGs guarantees one DDG available. That means one guaranteed task force, there is no guaranteed area defence for resupply, home defence, or separate landing points or a separate task force. Lose the DDG, and lose the task force, lose the war. Combined with the overworked ANZACs the limited escort numbers mean almost everything else in the ADF (outside the RAAF and SF and other air deployable elements) is broken. Even if Australia has deployable land force it can only get that somewhere (and resupply and reinforce) In benign conditions or with allied escort.

The RAN has also been the victim of political machinations. New PMs cut, delay or cancel programs. This happens across party lines and has affected subs and everything else. The political machination of RAN procurement Is a major national failing. The current government can definitely be faulted for not having a navally competent DSR team but we need to see the response to the surface fleet analysis before casting judgement. I don’t agree that is kicking the can down the road. As the thousands of posts on the RAN threads indicate they are intensely difficult problems.

The shining light is AUKUS (only possible due to the revolving door PM events) but crewing issues cast dark clouds. On a lower scale with the arrival of land attack cruise missiles the ADF will have a sovereign long range strike capacity for the first time in decades.

Australian Army was also on a solid upgrade path but I surmise that it has itself to blame for some of its problems. It established plans to reacquire a combined arms capability (it was obvious with the proliferation of roadside IEDs from about 2002 that M113s could not deliver that safely) but implemented them very slowly (often seemingly with the intention of acquiring the best possible bespoke solution in small numbers). Army also organized itself around generating forces for distant coalition operations where equipment could be transported in benign maritime environments and operate under air supremacy. Now that is no longer required (if the US wants to invade Lebanon or Iran the best support an ally like Australia could offer the US is to refuse to support it).

Australia’s 1st Division will begin to have a combined arms capability again some time late this decade when IFVs arrive (in reduced numbers than planned). That seems coordinated with the rapid acquisition of littoral manoeuvre vessels for regional deployments (and shore based anti ship missiles and HIMARS). The possible mission for the concentrated forces in North Queensland is vague but there are excellent domestic and geopolitical reasons for keeping that vague. Unfortunately they may have difficulties getting where they need to go safely due to limited escorts.

Shining lights for Army (lots of problems unstated admittedly)? Excellent decisions on helicopters made by previous government being followed through promptly. Domestic production facilities for armoured vehicles and missiles mean that (unless export orders take away capacity) more local orders should follow (political expediency will recognize military necessity). Fires Brigade.

So the arguments that all the problems are from one side of politics are just political. The arguments that the current government is just saving money are appealing, it is true of governments most of the time, but some of the things this gov’t is doing are expensive in the next four years which is what Australian gov’ts mainly care about.

The argument that the gov’t is doing nothing is definitely wrong. It is doing heaps of things. Most of those things are not well explained and receive a lot of critical commentary on this site (some from me) but you will wait in vain for an explanation.
 

hauritz

Well-Known Member
I am putting this article on this general ADF thread rather than the naval one I normally follow because it affects everything.

Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty flagged axing some programs to pay for other DSR requirements. Ouch.

I have said before in my own field (Infrastructure planning) there has been a noticeable slowdown in work since IA announced a review in late 2022. Recently a number of projects were cancelled as a result of that. Strictly speaking it was not a budget cut in Infrastructure. The previous government had added projects without increasing funds, and so the program was cut to match funds.

With the advent of AUKUS without a large increase in defence spending I fear Defence is now in the same boat. Australia’s debt is now 3x larger than it was back in 2012/13 and interest rates have returned to historic norms. So borrowing would cost a lot more now. I expect Defence will need to live within its budget for 2-3 years or until interest rates drop.
When I read this I immediately thought the shupbuilding industry would be the most affected. Really everything is on hold until the naval review is acted upon.

The decision on building new landing craft will alleviate the problem a little but the major decisions such as whether or not production of the Arafuras will continue, the tier two combatants, the future of the Hunter program, the promised JSS, MCM and Hydro vessels, upgrades and life extensions for our existing subs and frigates are all up in the air.
 

Volkodav

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
My take is rather different. Australia’s strategic outlook is vastly better than it was in 1941 but it is vastly uncertain now. Even if Australian strategic planners had full access to the plans of every potential adversary and ally the situation would still be utterly uncertain. Nobody knows who will win the US presidential election in 2024, what the health and legal status of the winner in 2026, what will be the state of US governance and social cohesion, and what will be the resulting state of great power relations.

Under these circumstances minor and medium powers hedge their bets. Australia’s bipartisan strategy has been to demonstrate its usefulness to the US by engaging in US-led coalitions in the hope that will generate gratitude in the time of need. That sounds like a stupid strategy (there are no permanent friends only permanent interests a la Palmerston) but it could work due to the vagaries of the US political system. It has (in most cases) been a stupid strategy where Australia encouraged the US to act against the US’s national interests (become embroiled in land wars in Asia).

In terms of hedging military preparations governments of both stripes have invested and held the course on the RAAF. On paper it is a superb small airforce. Governments of both stripes have avoided misusing it for domestic HADR, border protection, or foreign adventures (i.e. It has used RAAF assets extensively in those roles but in ways that are pretty close to their intended use). The mass is too small to be sustained in a major conflict but generally speaking Australian governments have done well with the RAAF (I struggle to think of anything of that scale across the whole of government programs that they have done better). The missing components: medium ( hopefully closer to long) range air defence, loyal wingmen etc are not too far off.

The RAN was on a sound upgrade path after 1999 (rectifying the deficiencies exposed by East Timor). However its major fleet units were trashed by border protection duties. The absolute height of idiocy was reached by ordering only 3 air warfare vessels (both sides of politics share blame for this). 3 DDGs guarantees one DDG available. That means one guaranteed task force, there is no guaranteed area defence for resupply, home defence, or separate landing points or a separate task force. Lose the DDG, and lose the task force, lose the war. Combined with the overworked ANZACs the limited escort numbers mean almost everything else in the ADF (outside the RAAF and SF and other air deployable elements) is broken. Even if Australia has deployable land force it can only get that somewhere (and resupply and reinforce) In benign conditions or with allied escort.

The RAN has also been the victim of political machinations. New PMs cut, delay or cancel programs. This happens across party lines and has affected subs and everything else. The political machination of RAN procurement Is a major national failing. The current government can definitely be faulted for not having a navally competent DSR team but we need to see the response to the surface fleet analysis before casting judgement. I don’t agree that is kicking the can down the road. As the thousands of posts on the RAN threads indicate they are intensely difficult problems.

The shining light is AUKUS (only possible due to the revolving door PM events) but crewing issues cast dark clouds. On a lower scale with the arrival of land attack cruise missiles the ADF will have a sovereign long range strike capacity for the first time in decades.

Australian Army was also on a solid upgrade path but I surmise that it has itself to blame for some of its problems. It established plans to reacquire a combined arms capability (it was obvious with the proliferation of roadside IEDs from about 2002 that M113s could not deliver that safely) but implemented them very slowly (often seemingly with the intention of acquiring the best possible bespoke solution in small numbers). Army also organized itself around generating forces for distant coalition operations where equipment could be transported in benign maritime environments and operate under air supremacy. Now that is no longer required (if the US wants to invade Lebanon or Iran the best support an ally like Australia could offer the US is to refuse to support it).

Australia’s 1st Division will begin to have a combined arms capability again some time late this decade when IFVs arrive (in reduced numbers than planned). That seems coordinated with the rapid acquisition of littoral manoeuvre vessels for regional deployments (and shore based anti ship missiles and HIMARS). The possible mission for the concentrated forces in North Queensland is vague but there are excellent domestic and geopolitical reasons for keeping that vague. Unfortunately they may have difficulties getting where they need to go safely due to limited escorts.

Shining lights for Army (lots of problems unstated admittedly)? Excellent decisions on helicopters made by previous government being followed through promptly. Domestic production facilities for armoured vehicles and missiles mean that (unless export orders take away capacity) more local orders should follow (political expediency will recognize military necessity). Fires Brigade.

So the arguments that all the problems are from one side of politics are just political. The arguments that the current government is just saving money are appealing, it is true of governments most of the time, but some of the things this gov’t is doing are expensive in the next four years which is what Australian gov’ts mainly care about.

The argument that the gov’t is doing nothing is definitely wrong. It is doing heaps of things. Most of those things are not well explained and receive a lot of critical commentary on this site (some from me) but you will wait in vain for an explanation.
Actually nothing in shipbuilding is on hold.

The Hunter program may or may not be cut back, the Arafuras may or may not be cut back, the submarine pathway had been announced and the DDG and ANZAC upgrades are progressing. Nothing in the immediate future has changed.

Later batches of existing programs may be cut to buy something else instead, but nothing, right now, at this moment, or for the near future, has changed.
 

Pusser01

The Bunker Group
Verified Defense Pro
Actually nothing in shipbuilding is on hold.

The Hunter program may or may not be cut back, the Arafuras may or may not be cut back, the submarine pathway had been announced and the DDG and ANZAC upgrades are progressing. Nothing in the immediate future has changed.

Later batches of existing programs may be cut to buy something else instead, but nothing, right now, at this moment, or for the near future, has changed.
Maritime sustainment has definitely been put on hold. Quite a lot of decisions have been deferred until after the Maritime Review is released. This has already impacted on timings, scope of maintenance availabilities etc for next year. Cheers.
 
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Morgo

Well-Known Member
Your loyalty to the Labor party is sort of impressive, if a little sad. The last 100 years tells a story your ideological inclinations cannot alter.
Mate, I am not the one making blind partisan statements, and I can guarantee you don't have a clue about my ideological inclinations. I'll give you a peek though - I am absolutely against unsupported claims being presented as facts.

I have no hesitation in saying that the Gillard government in particular was woefully shortsighted on Defence. But so were the Howard, Abbott and Turnbull governments. Rudd at least was on the right track, and I have quite a lot of time for much of what was done under Morrison, although that was largely due to the good work Payne, Pyne and Dutton did as his respective Defence Ministers (Reynolds however appears a complete dimwit).

Regarding your reference to history, you might reflect on the fact that Australia was led through both World Wars by Labor Governments. Rather successfully.

To my questions:

- Please show me where the current Government has slashed Defence.
- Please show me where in the ALP's platform cutting Defence is a major plank, ie their "raison detre."
- Please provide links to books or peer reviewed articles which support your claim that "Historical precedent is particularly well documented."
- Please expand on your claim that "the last 100 years tells a story."

I don't believe you can as I don't believe the statements you made are supportable but I am happy to be proven wrong.
 
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Armchair

Active Member
I have no hesitation in saying that the Gillard government in particular was woefully shortsighted on Defence. But so were the Howard, Abbott and Turnbull governments. Rudd at least was on the right track, and I have quite a lot of time for much of what was done under Morrison, although that was largely due to the good work Payne, Pyne and Dutton did as his respective Defence Ministers (Reynolds however appears a complete dimwit).
agree with all of that, Dutton was excellent in that role but blotted his record by revealing a version of the Virginia deal when out of office (no harm done though it seems). Some of the tasks assigned to the ADF during COVID were also really terrible misuse of personnel but smack of Morrison to me (and were chiefly in Reynolds’s time).

To my questions:

- Please show me where the current Government has slashed Defence.
- Please show me where in the ALP's platform cutting Defence is a major plank, ie their "raison detre."
- Please provide links to books or peer reviewed articles which support your claim that "Historical precedent is particularly well documented."
- Please expand on your claim that "the last 100 years tells a story."

I don't believe you can as I don't believe the statements you made are supportable but I am happy to be proven wrong.
The point of my long diatribe above (admittedly lost in the flood of words) is that the political critique also has to address why the RAAF has evaded the ire of the ALP. If their aim was to slash defence and save money then buying fewer cheaper overseas built aircraft would be a good play.
 

MickB

Active Member
Media talk once more of enlisting Pacific Islanders in the ADF.
Spoken on here in the past with most posters in favor.

Often wondered (with the British Armys reduction of Gurkha Regts ) if a battalion of Gurkhas could be introduced into the Aust Army.
 

Maranoa

Active Member
Media talk once more of enlisting Pacific Islanders in the ADF.
Spoken on here in the past with most posters in favor.

Often wondered (with the British Armys reduction of Gurkha Regts ) if a battalion of Gurkhas could be introduced into the Aust Army.
This is the worst idea the Department of Defence ever had. Australia needs to get serious about resolving problems without forever resorting to passport giveaway festivals. I have a lot of insight into our 'Pacific Island family' and their 'security' elements and we definitely DO NOT want them here let alone giving them access to our military structure and classified data.
 
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