Gillard’s White Paper

Ludwig von Gress

The latest Australian defense white paper or rather a white feather paper is not to be taken too seriously. I didn’t even bother to download it. Anything our politicised public service produces is suspect and, in any case, after the elections LibNats will f…k up Australia’s defense in their own sweet way.

 Beside reassuring communist China that Australia is theirs for asking, the document does a little more. It might confuse voters, who take no interest in Australia’s future, and it allows the usual gaggle of Labor apologists in the media to cherry-pick this or that in order to claim that this socialist Government is not a treasonous one.

Not that much can be expected from the Coalition. The politicians of all colours salivate at the prospect of lucrative contract from the Chinese state corporations, when their time of bamboozling benighted voters comes to the end. Poor fellow, my country.


Mr. Medcalf, the director of the international security program and Mr. Brown, the military fellow at the Lowy Institute in Sydney, wrote in theWall Street Journal of 6th May, 2013:

Canberra on Friday released a major defense white paper, the first since 2009. The document offers a glimpse into the current state of official thinking on the threats facing Australia and how to deal with them. It reveals a government that seems less than fully convinced about the seriousness of Asia’s strategic challenges, with potentially significant implications both for Australia and for its allies.”

 It is unlikely that this Government has any convictions whatsoever. It certainly is not convinced that Australia is worth saving.

 “One point jumps out in particular. The government of Prime Minister Julia Gillard uses the white paper to present a subtle line on China, declaring that Australia “does not approach China as an adversary.” The paper describes China as a military partner, and holds out the prospect of bilateral exercises and an Australia-China Military Culture and Friendship week.”

 This with the regime which killed over 77 million of its citizens so far, and with its human rights record so atrocious that even the left leaning Amnesty International noticed.

 This marks a big rhetorical change from the last white paper, released by Ms. Gillard’s predecessor Kevin Rudd in 2009. That spoke of fending off “a major power adversary” (code for China) through a much stronger Australian Defense Force armed with new-generation submarines, cruise missiles and joint-strike fighters. Beijing certainly got the message, and the white paper’s release and clumsy diplomatic handling exacerbated the political mistrust between the two.”

 If I remember correctly, the previous White Paper was delayed to allow China to study it, and, presumably, recommend changes. Something may have got lost in the translation – Rudd’s Mandarin is only sufficient to impress Australian journalists.

 “And in an intriguing twist, the white paper makes Australia the first country officially to define its region of strategic interest as the “Indo-Pacific.” This is semantics with a punch, since the term not only reflects East Asia’s economic and energy dependence on Indian Ocean sea lanes but also affirms that India belongs in the Asian power game.”

 I didn’t go to Australian schools but I always believed that India is a part of Asia and a change from “Pacific’ or ‘Asia-Pacific’ to ‘Indo-Pacific’ thus means diminishing the region of Australia’s strategic interest.

 “But there is one major problem that could undo all these alliance-friendly aspects of this white paper—how to pay for it all. The funding for Mr. Rudd’s ambitious white paper never materialized. And the new white paper sends confusing messages about how Australian governments, including a new one likely after September elections, will cope with alliance-burden sharing.

The problem is acute given the political pressure to keep Australian defense spending below levels that a challenging strategic environment requires. Since 2001, Australian defense spending hovered at around 1.8% of GDP. But last year it was slashed to just 1.56%.

 Even that abysmally low figure is just a projection. The real figure, considering the “expertise” and “integrity” of the Treasury’s Left leaning public servants could be 1%.

 “Australia’s Defense Minister Stephen Smith speaks of extracting a “peace dividend” akin to America’s now that U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, and with it Australia’s, is winding down. But while Washington is cutting its defense budget from a relatively high 4.7% of GDP, Australia’s spending was already so low that the new cuts put it barely above Luxembourg on a per-capita basis. …

This could have a significant impact on Australia’s ability to stand alongside the U.S. and others as a confident ally at a time when other defense budgets in a turbulent region are rising rapidly. For example, Canberra is showing itself in no rush to acquire new submarines, even though it says it will press ahead with building 12 to replace its troubled fleet of six. If American force planners were counting on a big Australian submarine contribution to coalition operations, they may have to wait until the new boats are ready probably in the 2030s.[Fog of Chaos – Maritime will; Fog of Chaos – Strictly surface submarines]

…Australians have fought alongside the United States every time it has fought a major conflict since the First World War. Their ability to do so in future will come under increasing question unless an Australian leader proves willing to turn around the decline in defense spending, and soon.” [Full article – Australia, America’s Too-Frugal Ally]

There is no such leader even on the distant horizon.


About Ludwig von Gress

Born in communist Europe, interested in defence matters on a macro scale, with a cavalry “devil may care spirit” from his grandfather and cautious effectiveness of asymmetric warfare approach from his guerilla father. He sometimes despairs that he may be the only one taking the defence of Australia seriously.
This entry was posted in Australia, Labour Party, Military, Socialism and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

2 Responses to Gillard’s White Paper

  1. MHalblaub says:

    To stand alongside with the US Navy Australian submarines need a US combat system some Australian politicians said. For South Korea this is not true. Republic of Korea’s (ROK) Navy has no problem to operate their submarines with non US systems with US Navy forces.

    Last time it cost allot of time and money to fit these US systems designed for powerful and spacious nuclear submarines into a conventional submarine design. Canada made the same error to switch type of torpedo for their Victoria-class submarines bought as Upholder-class submarines from the UK in 1998. Canada wanted to use US Mark 48 torpedoes instead of the original British Tigerfish Mk 24. It is said, that just one submarine is today ready to fire the US torpedoes. What would help the US Navy better, one operational submarine with Mark 48 torpedoes or 4 submarine with “god knows what” torpedoes?

    Some politicians think, a submarine with a US combat system may communicate better with US ships. Therefore the NATO standard Link 16 or 22 is established. Well, the best way of communication for a submarine is to not communicate at all.

    The best way to fight with or without the USA is to have operational equipment e.g. operational submarines.

  2. Rim of Time says:

    I always like this is type of article. Thank you. Depressing, though.

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