Chasing the Norm

Australian academic and blogger on politics, international relations, and culture

What the next Defence White Paper should do about the Budget

‘What the next Defence White Paper should do about the Budget’, (with Peter Dean) Centre of Gravity, policy paper series, March 2014

Sir Arthur Tange’s maxim is simple and prophetic. For many its wisdom was clearly evident at the release of the last Australian Defence White Paper in 2013; a document that skimmed over budget issues in less than two pages. Yet Tange’s adage also applies in reverse – funding without a strategy is not strategy. This is a major risk that Australia now faces with the recent bipartisan fixation on increasing defence spending to 2 percent of GDP.

In the last two years 2 percent of GDP has emerged as the‘magic number’ for defence budgeting, a benchmark that has become an entrenched part of the discussion. Instead of a much-needed broad dialogue about Australia’s strategic policy, this single type of measurement has come to dominate, define and distort the national debate.

Download a copy of the paper [PDF format].