Scoop has an Ethical Paywall
License needed for work use Register

Gordon Campbell | Parliament TV | Parliament Today | News Video | Crime | Employers | Housing | Immigration | Legal | Local Govt. | Maori | Welfare | Unions | Youth | Search

 

Welfare Or Warfare? Military Spending In Budget 2020

Military spending in the 2020 ‘Rebuilding Together’ Budget is a total of $4,621,354,000* - that is an average of more than $88.8 million every week

While this is a small decrease when compared with the record amount of military spending allocated in Budget 2019** , it does not go far enough. This year’s allocation shows that despite the COVID-19 pandemic, the government still has the same old thinking about ‘security’ - a focus on outdated narrow military security concepts rather than real security that meets the needs of all New Zealanders.

Just yesterday the Prime Minister said the government would be running a ruler over every line of expenditure “to ensure our expenditure provides value for money”, and “now more than ever we need our schools and hospitals, our public houses and roads and railways. We need our police and our nurses, and we need our welfare safety net.”*** It is difficult to comprehend how this level of military spending can be justified as value for money or as helping to meet the need for essential social services.

This year, perhaps more than ever before, it is painfully obvious that military spending does nothing to address the major issues facing Aotearoa - whether the increasingly visibly flawed health system, the lack of affordable housing, the levels of poverty and social inequality, the inadequate preparations for climate change, and so on - instead, military spending diverts resources that could be put to far better use.

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading

Are you getting our free newsletter?

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.

For decades successive governments have stated that there is no direct military threat to this country, and - to be frank - if there was, then the New Zealand armed forces are not of a sufficient size to deter any military aggression.

Rather than continuing to focus on outdated narrow military security concepts, we urgently need to transition from maintaining combat-ready armed forces to civilian agencies that meet the wider security needs of all New Zealanders and our Pacific neighbours. Given New Zealand’s comparatively limited resources, the desperate need for substantially increased social funding domestically, as well as the urgent need for climate justice in the Pacific and globally, it simply makes no sense to continue to spend billions on military equipment and activities.

Fisheries and resource protection, border control, and maritime search and rescue could be better done by a civilian coastguard with inshore and offshore capabilities, equipped with a range of vehicles, vessels and aircraft that are suitable for our coastline, Antarctica and the Pacific, which - along with equipping civilian agencies for land-based search and rescue, and for humanitarian assistance here and overseas - would be a much cheaper option as none of these would require expensive military hardware.****

If there is any lesson to be learnt from the current pandemic, surely it is that new thinking about how best to meet our real security needs is essential. Instead of relying on an ideology that focuses on outdated narrow military security concepts, New Zealand could - and should - lead the way. Instead of continuing down the path of spending $20 billion plus (in addition to the annual military budget) over the next decade for increased combat capability, including new military aircraft and warships, this is an opportune time to choose a new and better way forward.

A transition from combat-ready armed forces to civilian agencies, along with increased funding for diplomacy, would ensure New Zealand could make a far more positive contribution to wellbeing and real security for all New Zealanders, and at the regional and global levels, than it can by continuing to maintain and re-arm small but costly armed forces.

References

*This is the total across the three Budget Votes where most military expenditure is itemised: Vote Defence, $649,003,000; Vote Defence Force, $3,971,169,000; and Vote Education, $1,182,000. When compared with Budget 2019, the allocations in Vote Defence and Vote Defence Force decreased by $437,027,000, and the allocation in Vote Education increased by $95,000.

**‘NZ Wellbeing Budget: Shocking rise in military spending’, Peace Movement Aotearoa, 30 May 2019 and ‘Global military spending increases, New Zealand ranks in report’, Peace Movement Aotearoa, 27 April 2020, http://www.converge.org.nz/pma/gdams.htm 

***Prime Minister's Pre-Budget speech, 13 May 2020, https://www.beehive.govt.nz 

****For more information about the costs of maintaining combat-ready armed forces, and better ways forward, see ‘Submission: Budget Policy Statement 2020’, Peace Movement Aotearoa, 23 January 2020, https://www.facebook.com/PeaceMovementAotearoa/posts/2691336330913719

© Scoop Media

Advertisement - scroll to continue reading
 
 
 
Parliament Headlines | Politics Headlines | Regional Headlines

Gordon Campbell: On The New Government’s Policies Of Yesteryear

Winston Peters is routinely described as the kingmaker who decides whether the centre right or the centre-left has a turn at running this country. He also plays a less heralded, but equally important role as the scapegoat who can be blamed for killing taxes that his senior partners never much wanted in the first place. Neither Ardern nor Robertson for example, really wanted a capital gains tax, for fear of Labour copping the “tax and spend“ label they ended up being saddled with anyway. Usefully though, they could tell the party faithful it was wicked old Winston who killed the CGT. More


 
 
Public Housing Futures: Christmas Comes Early For Landlords

New CTU analysis of the National & ACT coalition agreement has shown the cost of returning interest deductibility to landlords is an extra $900M on top of National’s original proposal. This is because it is going to be implemented earlier and faster, including retrospective rebates from April 2023. More


Green Party: Petition To Save Oil & Gas Ban

“The new Government’s plan to expand oil and gas exploration is as dangerous as it is unscientific. Whatever you think about the new government, there is simply no mandate to trash the climate. We need to come together to stop them,” says James Shaw. More

PSA: MFAT Must Reverse Decision To Remove Te Reo

MFAT's decision to remove te reo from correspondence before new Ministers are sworn in risks undermining the important progress the public sector has made in honouring te Tiriti. "We are very disappointed in what is a backward decision - it simply seems to be a Ministry bowing to the racist rhetoric we heard on the election campaign trail," says Marcia Puru. More

 
 
 
 
 
 

LATEST HEADLINES

  • PARLIAMENT
  • POLITICS
  • REGIONAL
 
 

InfoPages News Channels


 
 
 
 

Join Our Free Newsletter

Subscribe to Scoop’s 'The Catch Up' our free weekly newsletter sent to your inbox every Monday with stories from across our network.