In a media release today, the Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Mr Stuart Robert, said that “The Coalition policy position on defence funding could not be more rock solid...”
That’s right. And Tony Abbott has said so.
As the Leader of the Opposition said in his formal National Press Club address on 31 January, one of the Coalition's “big policy commitments” was that: “There will be no further reductions in defence spending”.
The “rock solid” commitment therefore is no reinstatement of funds and no additional funds for Defence! It formally adopts the Government’s 2012-13 fiscal position for Defence funding over the four year Forward Estimates period.
The Opposition’s 2013 “rock solid” commitment follows previous different approaches to Defence funding by the Coalition.
On 25 September 2012 at the 2012 RSL National Conference, Mr Abbott stated that “Our aspiration, as the Commonwealth’s budgetary position improves, would be to restore the three per cent real growth in defence spending that marked the final seven years of the Howard government.”
This inconsistency follows comments after the 2012 Budget by Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey in which Mr Hockey made it clear the Opposition was considering Defence as a target for a greater contributions to the fiscal position of the Commonwealth, saying the Coalition would go “much harder” than the Government on Defence savings. Mr Abbot himself reinforced this in his 2012-13 Budget Reply speech to the Parliament, by again stating that further savings could be garnered from the Defence Materiel Organisation.
The Opposition’s “rock solid” 2013 commitment is the same as the Government’s four year Forward Estimates.
Mr Smith's Office: Andrew Porter (02) 6277 7800 or 0419 474 392