The 2014 budget has drawn criticism for cuts to health, education and welfare, with more than 2200 defence civilians and contractors to be sacked, while the Liberal government’s budget pushes for billions in military ‘hardware’ spending.
Total defence outlays for the coming year will be $29.2 billion (up $500 million) and the government will spend $122.7 billion on military hardware to 2017-18.
In the face of cuts to welfare for young people under 30 and increases in the cost of uni fees, the government is instead encouraging young people to join the military with the ADF gap year program – with a price tag of $191.8 million over four years.
Defence budget expert with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) Mark Thompson told news.com that the budget is, “as good as it gets for defence”. Not so for veterans who see cuts to pensions, superannunation and medical assistance in this budget.
The implications of the military splurge of this government, during a time they are shouting austerity for everyone else, will not be clear until the 2015 release of the military white paper.