Remember that one scene from an early episode of Family Guy where Peter Griffin claimed he convinced US Congress to go to war by telling everyone “Anyone who doesn’t want to go to war is gay“? That’s more or less what Federal Treasurer Joe Hockey did this morning. Or, at least, that’s what he kinda tried to do.
The thing about this new military involvement in Iraq and Syria is that it is goddamned expensive shit. The deployment of RAAF forces and other associated personnel is expected to cost the taxpayer somewhere in the vicinity of $500million for every year the war is active. And then there’s this little other morsel of awfulness that came out overnight, wherein it turns out we’re basically buying every single bomb we drop off the US – patches of concentrated death that have a price tag ranging from $70,000 all the way up to $650,000 per bomb dropped.
With price tags that high, the money obviously has to come from somewhere on the homefront. But the Government’s coffers are still well and truly tied up, with the Abbott Government still struggling to pass measures from their controversial Federal Budget which was handed down way the hell back in May and still hasn’t passed through the admittedly hostile senate.
Enter: the Golden Throat himself, Joe Hockey. Speaking from Washington, where he is (somewhat ironically) due to attend the annual meeting of the International Monetary Fund, Hockey put the onus on freeing up the funds for war back onto the opposing Labor party – y’know, that mob that isn’t the actual Government right now – stating that “If Bill Shorten truly is honest about his commitment to deliver bipartisan support in relation to our defence efforts in the Middle East he’ll provide bi-partisan support to pay for it.”
“Given that we spend tens of billions of dollars each year on defence we have the capacity to deliver what we say we are going to deliver and it’s another good reason for Mr Shorten to immediately pass the remaining measures in the budget.”
“We will spend what we need to spend to defend the nation.”
Labor personnel, quite rightly, didn’t take particularly kindly to this, with opposition treasury spokesman Chris Bowen coming down hard on the remarks.
“Just when you think Joe Hockey can’t stoop any lower, there he is. Australians won’t be blackmailed into supporting this unfair budget.”
“It is simply disgraceful that Joe Hockey is trying to link his failed budget with national security. Under no circumstances should our international obligations be used to justify the cuts or taxes in this budget.”
Hockey’s comments yet again failed to receive support from within his own party, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott declined to support the call three times when questioned, instead opting to throw praise towards opposition leader Bill Shorten for his bi-partisan support of Australia’s military involvement in Iraq and Syria.
“To his great credit Opposition Leader Bill Shorten has been very, very bipartisan on this. I’ve had numerous conversations with Bill about this and he is an Australian patriot.“
Personally, I’m not too sure what’s worse – the fact that the Federal Treasurer is using his nation’s military involvement (in which civilian casualties are practically guaranteed) to push a highly contentious and, what many experts claim to be, unfair budget through a Parliament that’s made its objections to it fervently clear, or the phrase “Australian patriot.”
Photo: James Alcock via Getty Images