Opinion pieces


March 05, 2022

They say politics is a dirty game but it’s reached new levels in recent weeks with Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton’s inexcusable decision to politicise national security.

Their appalling lies about Labor have rightly been smacked down by experts.

The head of ASIO, Mike Burgess said it was "not helpful" to politicise national security.

Dennis Richardson - who was the head of ASIO under Prime Minister Howard and is also a former Australian Ambassador to Washington and head of the Department of Defence - stated that Mr Morrison was doing what the Chinese Communist Party wanted by suggesting there were political divisions on this.

Let me be clear: there is no difference between the Coalition and the Labor Party on attitudes to China’s increasing aggression in our region.

Mr Morrison attempts to portray one for his own petty political advantage, and in doing so, he plays right into the hands of the aggressive policies of Beijing.

The real issue in Australia’s national security debate is the Morrison Government’s mismanagement of major defence procurement projects.

From submarines and frigates to helicopters and jet fighters, these are the platforms, weapons, and equipment Australian Defence Force personnel need to protect our nation.

Under this Government, defence projects critical to the nation’s security are being bungled, facing long delays, cost blowouts, and not delivering the promised capabilities.
The Morrison Government’s mismanagement in Defence is hurting Australians and costing defence industry jobs.
ADF personnel are not getting the equipment they need to do their jobs, and Australia risks gaps in its defence capability at a time of strategic challenges.
Goldfish last longer than Liberal Defence Ministers.
Peter Dutton is this Government’s sixth Defence Minister in eight years.
Under his watch, there are now 30 major defence projects that are running cumulatively 79 years late.

Given this sorry record, it was bizarre to see the Liberal Party’s candidate for Paterson recently boasting in this paper about the Morrison Government’s defence investments including the Land 400 project which is acquiring new armoured vehicles for the Army.

Under this Government’s mismanagement, the $5.6 billion Land 400 project is   actually facing long delays and multiple technical issues.

The vehicle’s cannon is too heavy and unstable to be effective. The vehicles can only use bespoke European tyres and ammunition. The Defence Department is so worried that the entire fleet could be placed on their 'projects of concern' list.

And that’s just the beginning of the Morrison Government’s mismanagement of defence projects.

The Liberals have spent $3.5 billion on MRH-90 Taipan helicopters for the Army and Navy which are running seven years late and have had massive problems, including a door so narrow that troops could not exit the aircraft and fire their weapons at the same time.
Now the Government has dumped them before they even enter full service and will spend billions more on acquiring Blackhawk helicopters instead.
We’ve had the $1.5 billion C-27J Spartan – a battlefield airlifter which cannot actually fly into battlefields.
We’ve had the $3 billion battlefield management system that failed cybersecurity tests.
We’ve had $2.5 billion-plus wasted on the Attack-class submarines contract with the French which this Government has now junked – leaving Australia without the new submarines it needs for at least the next 20 years, creating a serious risk to our national security.
The $16 billion Joint Strike Fighter, the frontline air defence fighter for the ADF, is flying thousands fewer hours each year than planned.
Probably the most appalling example are the problems with the new $30 billion Hunter class frigates for the Navy, the cost of which has now blown out by 50 per cent to $45 billion.
The Hunter class frigates are running four years late, they are 2,000 tonnes overweight, they will be slower than the rest of the Navy’s fleet, they will have a shorter range, and they will be very noisy, making them more vulnerable to detection by adversaries – a big problem for a vessel whose primary role is hunting submarines.
Appallingly, the frigate captains will be faced with the awful choice of either going full speed in a battle or using their radar.
The truth about Scott Morrison and his national security credentials is that his incompetence is hurting Australian troops, costing Australian jobs, and jeopardising Australia’s defence.

Instead of desperately politicising national security as a short-term political tactic, Scott Morrison and Peter Dutton need to support our troops by getting key Defence procurements back on track.