Rudd: don't bury Howard defence plan




Australian Financial Review

31st January 2008


Your editorial ("The targets of defence", January 21), and Rod Lyons's Opinion piece ("Plotting a course under Labor", January 21), provide an excellent survey of the strategic issues faced by Kevin Rudd's Labor government and indicate that, when writing their defence white paper, the Labor people will have to think about many new aspects. 


But neither human nature nor the nature of states has changed, so past verities cannot be set aside in the attempt to be fashionable.


One continuing verity, rather underplayed in the two analyses, is the importance to Australia's defence, and even more its security, of the USA - not only because of its military predominance but also because its national interests are so naturally close, in part because so many of our values are shared.


Another continuing verity is that we cannot leave everything to the Americans.


Self-help is not only an ANZUS Treaty and moral requirement but also a national need. This is particularly true of the continued need for strong action to deal with the serious threats, both internal and external, from terrorist activities, also underplayed.


This is why the Howard Government did so well by the country in increasing the defence budget so hugely, which helped make-up for the back-log left by previous governments, and promising 3 per cent real increases to 2016.


 Rudd needs to follow in John Howard's footsteps, not wipe them out.