Additional Comments by Senator Scott Ludlam
Australian Greens Senator for Western Australia
Defence procurement has been the
subject of numerous inquiries, reviews and reform efforts over decades. This
inquiry and report have usefully reflected on recent developments and their
adequacy in improving the complex defence procurement process.
Parliamentarians bear ultimate
responsibility for waste, shortfalls and systemic failures in the defence
procurement process, given that the Parliament approves the spending of over
$66 million a day on defence.
The potential for Parliamentarians to
practically shoulder that responsibility and scrutinise decisions on behalf of
the people they represent is inhibited when information is not publicly
While some details and planning are
confidential for legitimate security reasons, those reasons are frequently
overstated, which has resulted in an entrenched democracy deficit in decision
making about security expenditure.
The ultimate ‘source code’ for all
downstream procurement decisions are Defence White Papers, which set the
strategic template within which more fine-grained capability decisions are
made. It is therefore profoundly concerning to discover that
White Papers can be deliberately
misleading. In December 2010, leaked US State Department cables revealed the
disconnect between our government’s actual defence purpose and the stated
defence posture outlined in the 2009 White Paper.
The Committee’s report goes some way to
making the process of procurement more transparent. It does not, however,
examine the crucial step upstream of the procurement machinery in which the
strategic environment is assessed in order to guide decisions on what equipment
will be required to meet security threats.
As we approach the 2013 Defence White
Paper process, we have an opportunity to increase transparency and
accountability, and introduce a degree of contestability. We also have an
opportunity to take a serious second look at the existing and potential
security implications of a changing global climate, a massive security issue
that was unforgivably viewed as irrelevant until 2030 in the last White Paper.
The Australian Greens thank the many
experts who gave generously of their time and the Committee secretariat whose tireless
efforts have compressed the expertise, examples and lessons learned into
proposals for improvement.
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