Australia and its defence readiness

Speaker, this year’s Budget continues the Government’s strong
commitment to Australia’s national security,” Peter Costello said in
his big speech . But was Defence Minister Robert Hill listening?

is scrapping its F-111s in favour of the new US F-35 Joint Strike
Fighter – even though it’s not really known when it will be in the air.
Now, the JSF seems to be causing budgetary concerns of its own to the
US House Armed Services Committee.

The Los Angles Times
reported on Friday that “in its version of the 2006 defense
authorization bill, the committee sliced $152 million off the Bush
administration’s request for the F-35 joint strike fighter…The bill was
approved by a 61-1 vote of the committee Wednesday and now heads for a
floor vote in the House of Representatives.”

So why the cut? The LA Times quotes
the committee’s chair, Republican Duncan Hunter, as calling the bill “
‘tough medicine for some programs’ that need to get their costs under
control… In cutting the F-35 budget, the committee noted that changes
had to be made to the fighter’s design in order to shed weight. The
changes pushed the first flight of the jet back to 2008.”

don’t know when our key air defence platform will fly – and what it
will cost. That’s a strong commitment, hey Treasurer? Hilly?

The first notes of Simon Crean’s swansong?

apparatchiks are seeing a plenty of significance in a short message
circulated at the end of last week: “Dear Members and Senators – Just a
quick note to advise the ALP nominee for the CPA Good Governance
Conference in the UK on 6-9 June 2005 is the Hon Simon Crean MP.”

Too much significance? A swansong? They wouldn’t risk a by-election, surely?

The real reason why Bob Carr didn’t move to Canberra

Christian Kerr writes:

Why didn’t Bob Carr want to move to Canberra? Forget the excuses he offered last week and look at the Sydney Writers Festival program for this Thursday:

Lewis Lapham, Bob Carr (Chair)

Join us for this very special inaugural event in Newcastle featuring the Hon. Bob Carr and American author and editor of Harper’s
magazine, Lewis Lapham, for a wide-ranging discussion about US
politics, the war in Iraq, and why he called President Clinton, “a

OK, so Don Dunstan once read poetry from the back of an elephant. But that was the seventies. And this is Harper’s, an “American journal of literature, politics, culture, and the arts published continuously from 1850,” not Harper’s Bazaar. Prime ministers just can’t get away with literary luvviedom.

Who’s the SA Liberal mole?

The end of the world is nigh, according to a strategy paper on the electoral changes of the South Australian Liberal Party’s electoral chances reported in the Adelaide Sunday Mail yesterday.

Not much news there. What was interesting, though, were these two
lines: “Federal officials were outraged the document was not acted on.
‘He [state leader Rob Kerin] ignored the whole thing,’ one senior
federal party official said.”

About the only South Australian
who fits into the category of “senior federal party official” is the
federal Liberal vice-president, Bruce McDonald, a former SA party boss
and the godfather of the local Liberal right, along with Senator Nick

Naturally, someone so senior wouldn’t leak – but the
right aren’t going to execute Kerin, are they? He sure sounds under
threat in the Adelaide Advertiser today.