Labor’s National Security Strategy is nothing more than an attempt by the Prime Minister to gain some desperately needed credibility in a policy area she has completely ignored throughout her leadership.
Shadow Attorney-General George Brandis said today’s statement was more about re-announcements and meaningless platitudes instead of providing a clear and costed outline for Australia’s defence and security needs.
“The Prime Minister acknowledges that border security has to be one of the pillars of Australia’s national security, but Labor’s failure in this area has been spectacular – with over 32,000 arrivals on over 550 boats. Labor has consistently refused to reintroduce proven policies to stop the boats. A government that can’t secure our borders can’t be taken seriously on national security”, Senator Brandis said.
Labor also has no credibility when it comes to defence.
“Before the 2010 election Labor committed to deliver an average of three per cent real growth spending in Defence out to 2017/18 but since then the Defence budget has plummeted entirely in the opposite direction,” Senator Brandis said.
“We are now in the precarious position where Defence spending as a share of GDP is at its lowest level recorded in Australia since 1938.”
“Under Gillard’s leadership we have whittled away our ability to defend ourselves to the point where even the United States is openly questioning our commitment and complaining we are not responsibly playing our part.”
President Obama’s senior State Department official responsible for the Asia-Pacific region, Dr Kurt Campbell, said last year that the government’s cuts to our defence spending were a matter of concern to the US.
Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston said most of the $275 billion worth of acquisitions outlined in the 2009 Defence White Paper, including 12 new submarines, 8 frigates and 100 Joint Strike Fighters, have stalled because successive Budgets have slashed $25 billion from Defence.
He said in 2012 Gillard’s then Defence Secretary Major General Duncan Lewis, an ex Special Forces Commander and a former National Security Adviser, sagely warned that Australia was ‘no longer structured or postured appropriately to meet our future strategic needs.’
Major General Lewis went on to say that if the cuts went further ‘Australia runs the risk of becoming irrelevant.’
“Gillard has lowered the national discussion on Defence to this level. Such is the mess she has inflicted on the Defence budget that her own Defence Secretary and our closest ally felt the need to publicly criticise the direction she is heading on defence and national security,” Senator Johnston said.
The Coalition was also concerned that of the Prime Minister’s three key national security priorities for the next five years’ none of them has anything to do with Defence.
“Deterring and defeating attacks on Australia is listed as one of the national security ‘pillars’, but where is that linked into the ADF and its capabilities?”
A national security strategy must be matched by adequate resources. Without proper resourcing there is no strategy.
Julia Gillard has to be judged on her record rather than on what she says. Labor can’t be trusted to safeguard Australia’s national security.