Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 20:29 | SYDNEY
Monday 16 Jul 2018 | 20:29 | SYDNEY

Pricing the national security complex


Graeme Dobell

14 May 2010 14:11

The national security complex is starting to assume a single budget identity. No more flicking through the budget papers to add up various elements of the complex. 

The claim from Canberra is of a 'national security budget which invests a total of $4.3 billion'. That figure is given in a joint statement from the Attorney-General and the ministers for Foreign Affairs, Home Affairs and Immigration, which they get by adding up various bits covering national security, border protection, aviation security and supporting the Australian Defence Force.

The complex is anointed in Budget Paper No. 1:

This is the first Budget to deliver a coordinated approach to national security funding. A coordinated approach to the national security budget has allowed the Government to direct funding to the highest national security priorities. This approach will ensure Australia's law enforcement, intelligence, security and border protection services are better able to protect our community.

Accepting the Rudd Government's estimate of the cost of this coordinated approach, national security is several laps ahead of the Department of Foreign Affairs in the budget stakes and is running neck-and-neck with foreign aid.

The February counter-terrorism white paper prompted some musings on the language and the spread of Canberra's counter-terrorism edifice. Mark the edifice as one important face of the national security complex. The prediction of a 'persistent and permanent' jihadist threat might not be enough to secure the edifice's bureaucratic future. But as part of a broader national security complex, the budget prospects are encouraging.

The ministerial release gives an idea of the range of growth areas for the national security complex: identity security, telecommunications interception, organised crime and tax evasion, criminal intelligence, more cash for the foreign spooks at ASIS, and promoting security in the Asia Pacific through the cops and counter-terrorism.

Money for building working will go to the cops, security upgrades at Parliament, the surge capacity of the National Emergency Call Centre and upgrading the runway on Cocos Islands. Add to this the surge in interest in cyber-crime and cyber espionage.

Just as well we have a 'coordinated approach to national security'. It's not just a matter of getting all those ducks in a row; they need to talk to each other occasionally and sometimes fly in a roughly similar direction.

The national security complex is set to harvest a lot of budget largesse from its burgeoning complexity.

Photo by Flickr user adambowie, used under a Creative Commons license.