There were few surprises in last night’s defence Budget. Despite a much improved economic and fiscal outlook, the 3% growth in defence spending promised in the 2009 Defence White Paper remains on hold. And consistent with the government’s careful approach to spending in this year’s Budget, there were only two defence measures worthy of note.
The first provides $1.1 billion in routine supplementation to cover the cost of overseas deployments. The second provides another $1.1 billion for "enhancement of force protection measures in Afghanistan", of which Defence has to absorb $912 million from within their existing resources. This is hardly unreasonable; with many other parts of government tightening their belt to hasten a return to surplus, it’s fair enough that Defence does so too. And if priorities have to be rearranged in Defence to provide better protection for troops, that’s as it should be.