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Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3523 ..


MR RATTENBURY (Kurrajong) (3.55): I rise to speak on Mr Hanson’s motion, which clearly aims to attack the policy of the Australian Greens in a way that really is quite strange. I am not sure what, if any, policy of the Australian Greens it is that Mr Hanson has read in full, but every important matter he touches on is one where he has deftly missed the point that is articulated in the policy document.

We, as the Greens, are proud of this policy. It is a policy that takes a sensible and evidence-based approach to this nation’s security. It recognises that conflict is bred by poverty and injustice and that climate change is one of our greatest security threats. It aims to target those effectively, rather than wasting money to showboat ineffective weapons of war and rub shoulders with arms dealers.

The motion makes mention of the number of ADF and APS defence personnel living and working in the ACT, as well as the economic contribution of defence spending to the ACT and the region. While, certainly, government expenditure supports jobs and promotes economic activity—it is a simple law of economics—the fact is that there is no proposal to simply delete that money from existence. That is not the Australian Greens’ policy position. The proposal is, in fact, to spend it more effectively, in a way that maintains our security, while diverting some funding to improve the wellbeing of Australians in other ways.

I thought it might assist the chamber if we ran through the detailed and carefully considered policy. I would even be willing to send a copy to Mr Hanson because it is not clear to me that he has read it. He probably read the report of it in the Australian, but I am not sure he has read the actual document.

The headline of the policy is to reduce defence spending levels to be more in line with long-term trends. Before the coalition government came to power, defence spending had been trending down towards one per cent of GDP. It has now increased to sit at two per cent, a position supported by both Labor and the Liberals at a federal level. But it would be a mistake to conflate increased spending with either increased safety or increased jobs availability for Canberrans. That is a long bow, but it is the one that Mr Hanson has sought to draw today.

Has that increased spending made us safer? I think that is a very debatable question. The Greens’ policy articulates plans clearly intended to make us safer. What is clear is that the money that has been allocated has allowed Australia to ink deals for defence assets that will be obsolete by the time we deploy them. That is the kind of strategic leadership that is currently on offer. Of course, the cash-splash approach made us able to afford such vital strategic interests as elaborately deceiving the President of France. But, beyond that, it is not clear whether this expenditure has actually made us any safer.

The Greens’ policy is clear on where that money does need to go. We do not need to be spending money on turning ourselves into an arms dealer for nations with a chequered past of human rights abuses. The policy at the moment is to sell arms to anybody that will take them from us. This comes with a tremendous human cost. While the federal coalition is wasting money on plans to turn Australia into an arms


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