If elected, a Coalition government will immediately work to increase Australia's defence spending by three per cent of the GDP, Opposition Leader Tony Abbott said on Tuesday.
In his speech before the Returned Services League (RSL) National Conference in Sydney, Mr Abbott pledged that he will reverse Labor's defence budget policy and bring back the measures implemented by former Prime Minister John Howard.
"Our aspiration, as the Commonwealth's budgetary position improves, would be to restore the 3 per cent real growth in defence spending that marked the final seven years of the Howard government," the Liberal leader was reported by ABC as saying.
Investments will be poured on acquisition of new military equipment, which include purchases of submarines and combat aircraft to upgrade the capability of the country's air force and navy, Mr Abbott told his audience.
The money, he added, will be sourced from federal savings that his government will institute as soon as it takes away the federal rein from Labor and Prime Minister Julia Gillard.
"Any savings that the Coalition can find in the defence bureaucracy will be reinvested in greater military capacity," vowed Mr Abbott.
He is reviving the defence policies of Mr Howard because he envisions "that our military forces should always be at least as capable as they were when the Howard government left office."
All the good things that the Coalition plans for the defence sector, Mr Abbott said, will be outlined in the white paper that his government would published within 18 months after the 2013 national election, given that the Liberal-National will emerged as the victors.
This freshly crafted defence white paper will contain fully-costed and reasonable means to achieve the Australian defence build up, he added.
Some highlights of his defence policy is the sustained Afghan Mission, stressing that for Australia to completely exit from the conflict would easily push back the Afghans "to the dark ages."
The defence budget upgrade would also provide a fair go to Australian war veterans, which Mr Abbott said, will be realised by properly indexing the defence pension with the present economic context.
"Loyalty goes both ways . . . and the very least we can do is pay ex-servicemen and women a retirement benefit that increases in line with the increases of ordinary pensioners," Mr Abbott insisted.
Yet the Abbott defence plan is viewed by Warren Snowdon, federal defence personnel minister, as a mere political statement and should not be taken seriously.
Mr Snowdon added that Mr Abbott's planned defence white paper will end up a government white elephant.
"I don't think he'll require another white paper 18 months after he gets in because the next white paper will be addressing our needs currently and anticipated needs," the federal government official was reported by the Australian Associated Press (AAP) as saying on Tuesday.
Also, Finance Minister Penny Wong is puzzled on how the Coalition will finance the defence plan divulged by Mr Abbott.
"We have Joe Hockey and others claiming that they have their policies costed, claiming that they've done their numbers, but refusing to let the Australian people in on the cuts to services, the cuts to jobs that they will impose," Senator Wong told ABC Tuesday.
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