Subsidizing an industry of carnage
Why has the Australian government suddenly decided to get into the weapons-export business? asked Crispin Hull. Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has noticed that the global arms trade is booming, and he’s now trying to lure foreign military hardware manufacturers here with some $3 billion in tax credits, perks, and low-interest loans. But if it’s just jobs he wants, why not subsidize firms that export cigarettes? Sure, foreign companies dominate the tobacco industry, but the same is true of the arms business. And while smoking is bad for people’s health, so are tanks and guns. The irony is that we used to subsidize a local industry, the Australian auto industry. But we trashed it “on the ideology of the free market.” Now all those former autoworkers in South Australia need jobs, so the government is willing to abandon its fealty to laissez-faire and bribe foreign weapons makers to come here and employ them. It makes you wonder who has been donating to Turnbull and his center-right Liberal Party—and wonder we must, given Australia’s opaque campaign financing regulations and recent revelations of foreign influence. U.S. President Dwight D. Eisenhower once warned of a military-industrial complex corrupting government. Does Australia now face the same threat?