Defence & Department of Veterans Affairs

There has been a recent announcement regarding $195 Billion for defence spending. I do not disagree with this but there needs to be some caveats that come with sending of this size and nature. I worked in Defence and know much about procurement and contracts. My father spent 22 years in Defence.

There needs to be a guarantee that at a minimum 50% of this spending is here in Australia. We have the ability and seriously we are talking about innovation... here it is! Some of these projects could actually be completed here with 75% of Australian expenditure. Some technical and network aspects must be done in conjunction with other parties so that systems sharing works but that is probably only 22-25% of any project.

There is enormous concern with some spending relative to the value and or specific use on some projects. There is a current discussion regarding the F35 which is very concerning. The concern is the viability of this aircraft in modern warfare. 

Secondly and probably more importantly ex-military, retired and veterans need to be cared for and looked after properly. Vets Affairs is disgraceful and almost humiliating. I saddened when I see and read about veteran suicides. Defence is different, there are many jobs that are dangerous and can cause medical problems. But Vet Affairs and Defence are decades behind other countries in recognising this and simply disallow or do not agree with medical conditions long recognised (because it’s not on their list) and supported by Defence in the USA and UK, many European countries and some Asian countries.

For example the fuel and fuel tank repair problems suffered by enlisted men who were 6 year or 9 year personnel on the F111 projects. Some have been waiting years and made many applications only to find out that the Mater hospital has now been commissioned by Defence and raised a report where the outcome is nothing short of financial, emotional and medical disaster for many of those personnel. It is sadly indicative of an indifferent and non-caring country who simply waits for it military people to die to solve a problem they cause. 1/100th of that $195B spend is all that is needed for Vets to be correctly looked after... why not support the people who make our country safe for all to live in? I have not spoken with one Australian who doesn’t feel this way about our defence people.

Again I have been advised by DVA staff that funding cuts have led to staff reduction and necessary infrastructure cuts (IT) and necessary research on a timely nature. They also agree that we are in some cases duplicating work already done at length by other countries and again up to 20 years behind other countries in recognising problems and work place safety and rehabilitation in defence. The Mater report 2015 is 15 years late and has duplicated much information already known by organisations such as CDC, work safe Australia and alike.

Finally it is abhorrent that in the recent past more servicemen returning from duty have died while at home than those who have died on the battlefield… WHY? A lack of care and responsibility! Some are homeless, disenfranchised in being unable to fit back into normal society. It is shameful that these are the facts while government cuts necessary funding for our brave servicemen and women who still remain less paid than the average wage and who seem to be the last thought of in long winded pay increases simply to keep up with inflation. But they can find hundreds of billions of dollars money to buy shiny machines!