Sir Arthur Tange's maxim is simple and prophetic. For many its wisdom was clearly evident at the release of the last Australian Defence White Paper in 2013; a document that skimmed over budget issues in less than two pages. Yet Tange's adage also applies in reverse€“ funding without a strategy is not strategy. This is a major risk that Australia now faces with the recent bipartisan fixation on increasing defence spending to 2 percent of GDP.
In the last two years 2 percent of GDP has emerged as the 'magic number' for defence budgeting, a benchmark that has become an entrenched part of the discussion. Instead of a much-needed broad dialogue about Australia's strategic policy, this single type of measurement has come to dominate, define and distort the national debate.