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Just what is the status of the 2013 Defence White Paper?



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Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel

Stuart Robert,

Just what is the status of the 2013 Defence White Paper?

16/01/13

It is now 2013, the year the Gillard Labor Government promised it would deliver the next Defence White Paper. But there is growing speculation that it won’t be delivered, and if it is, it will fall far short of what is required to set out Australia’s future strategic position and Defence policy.

Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Stuart Robert, said he remained highly sceptical about whether or not the 2013 White Paper would be delivered and whether or not it would be up to scratch.

‘Expectations regarding the delivery of the 2013 Defence White Paper have been low from the very beginning. After all, the decision to bring the White Paper forward from 2014 was because the 2013 White Paper turned out to be little more than an unfunded equipment wish list,’ Mr Robert said.

‘I firmly believe the Government’s announcement to bring the release of the next White Paper forward was an exercise in political diversion, a ploy to distract attention from the Government’s massive Defence budget cuts that have totalled at least $25b in just a few short years.’

‘The irony of course is that it is the Government’s own Defence budget cuts that have forced it to scrap the 2009 White Paper and bring the 2014 White Paper forward.’

Mr Robert said the real risk was that as the next federal election gets closer the next Defence White Paper would increasingly become a political document rather than a strategic defence document.

‘Prime Minister Gillard has already confirmed that the 2013 White Paper will be delayed, pushing the date of release from before June 2013 to before the election,’ Mr Robert said.

‘The longer we wait, the bigger the risk the White Paper will be a political document and not the strategic document that it needs to be.’

‘At this stage we don’t even know if there will be a White Paper before the election. But if there is, and that is a big if, it risks being less of a White Paper and more of a White Pamphlet, or worse still a White Flyer, containing motherhood statements devoid of any real strategic analysis or realistic funding projections.’

‘The situation the Government finds itself is entirely of its own making. You simply cannot reduce Defence spending as a percentage of GDP to its lowest level since 1938 without consequences.’