Australia has purchased 58 new Joint Strike Fighters at a cost of $12.4 billion.
Just weeks before Joe Hockey announces what is expected to be the toughest budget on citizens of this century, Tony Abbott yesterday confirmed that Australia has agreed to purchase an additional 58 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft.
Australia currently has two Joint Strike Fighters already paid for and a further 12 already on order, with the new order taking the total to 62 aircraft. Valued at $12.4 billion in lifetime costs, the new order of fighters is one of Australia’s most expensive military acquisitions ever. They will replace the currently used Hornet F/A-18 aircraft, which are due to be retired in 2022.
When Prime Minister Tony Abbott was questioned on whether he was worried that taxpayers would question the cost of the program in light of looming budget cuts, Mr Abbot said "This is not new spending today. In the context of a tough budget, this is spending money that we need to spend that has been sensibly put aside in the past to ensure that our nation's defences remain strong". Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has backed the purchase of the aircraft.
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In his keynote speech yesterday, Joe Hockey set his sights on ending the “age of entitlement” by announcing that the current Age Pension, the growing costs of aged care services and the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme were all unsuitable for a changing Australia.
Mr Hockey made his intentions very clear last night. He stated that there is an imbalance in the current taxation system, but that the Government would be taking any taxation changes to the next election. Mr Hockey said that “we all must contribute” in his speech, yet his main focus was on the spending on key services which aid those over the age of 60.
We should all be worried.
The handling of budget leak announcements by Mr Hockey and the Abbott Government has been highly irresponsible, with big picture cuts or changes suggested with very little detail revealed. The pension age increase to 70 is a prime example. It is reasonable to expect such a change to be implemented over several years, yet the increase was reported by most news outlets as if it would be immediate.
One thing is clear to me; Mr Hockey will win no friends amongst older voters this budget and they will certainly remember Mr Abbott’s promise of no change to pensions when it comes time to vote in the next election.
What do you think? Should we have spent $12.4 billion on fighter jets to increase our defensive and offensive military power? Is Mr Hockey unfairly targeting seniors in the upcoming budget? Has the Coalition already lost your vote?