12 May 2010

2010-11 Australian Budget as it relates to Defence spending

Last night the 2010-11 Australian Budget was released, it can be found here. This morning at the National Press Club there was a Defence Budget Breakfast in which Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science Greg Combet discussed defence spending in the budget. Some of the highlights for ADF personnel and national security include:

Force Protection

The government has committed approximately $1.1 billion over the forward estimates, including $487.1 million in 2010-11, for enhanced force protection measures for ADF deployed troops.

This new investment in force protection capabilities and initiatives includes a range of measures that provide direct protection to Australian Defence Force members from small arms, improvised explosive devices and indirect fire, as well as improving intelligence and surveillance capabilities.

Australian forces in Afghanistan currently face a high risk from insurgent operations, including improvised explosive devices and indirect fire.

Other capabilities in force protection which are being funded in this budget include:
  • Improved route clearance capabilities;
  • Improved protection and firepower for Protected Mobility Vehicles;
  • New night-fighting equipment;
  • Improved body armour;
  • New weapons system for the Special Operations Task Group;
  • Additional military working dogs; and
  • Improved intelligence and reconnaissance capabilities
National Security

This year the government has increased national security spending from $29.4 billion to $30.8 billion, an increase of $1.4 billion from the last budget.

Over the 2010-11 budget year and the three forward estimates years, there will be a commitment of $122.7 billion to the defence of Australia.

This morning Minister Combet noted that new financial plan has two important elements: (1) New funding model promising substantial real growth and long term predictability of funding; and (2) Comprehensive program of reform and savings referred to as the Strategic Reform Program or SRP. The savings from the SRP will be reinvested back into Defence capabilities.

In total, this new financial plan results in an additional investment by the government of $146.1 billion to 2030. The Defence funding model, implemented as a part of the White Paper (which I have previously discussed here.), seems to be predicated on three elements:

3.0% average real growth to 2017-18;
2.2% average real growth from 2018-19 to 2029-30; and
2.5% fixed price indexation from 2009-10 to 2029-30.

Combet claims that what the SRP does is a redirection of funds to help ensure more, and greater, capability is delivered to the ADF. The SRP includes a comprehensive set of reforms that will overhaul Defence, produce efficiencies and generate savings of around $20 billion over the coming decade.

Overall I'm impressed with force protection increases and how that money will be used to properly protect our troops overseas. I'd like a bit more on specifics though and in the coming months hope Defence is forthcoming in this area.

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