Australia has a ship. A fairly hefty one. It is called HMAS Perth.
It was commissioned in 2006. And it was the eighth and final Anzac-class frigate delivered in what was a $5 billion program. When the contract was announced in 1989 it was the largest acquisition program ever undertaken by Defence.
Four years after it was commissioned, HMAS Perth’s combat systems received a major multi-million dollar upgrade. And then more money was thrown at the ship, as you can see below:
— The PMO (@thepmo) November 3, 2017
Malcolm Turnbull may have found HMAS Perth to be a great setting for the political photo shoot. But the ship is not much use for anything else.
That’s because it now sits, forlornly, in a dry dock. And it has done so since October 2017.
HMAS Perth’s 5 inch gun has nothing wrong with it. But it can’t be fired. Its torpedo tubes work fine. But they don’t work at all. And its missile launchers are operational except for the fact that the entire ship is not.
As the Chinese Navy sailed into Sydney Harbour this sad little story, now at least 18 months old, broke for the first time in Australia.
It’s best described by Marcus Hellyer of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute who told the ABC that:
“HMAS Perth, one of Navy’s frigates, had gone through a very extensive refit and upgrade, got new radar capabilities, so a lot of investment went into that, but at the end of that process Navy couldn’t find a crew for it,” Dr Hellyer said.
“So, it’s essentially sitting up on blocks for two years, out of the water because Navy doesn’t have the people and I think that’s really a microcosm of the challenges the defence force is facing.”
The Australian National Audit Office report simply states:
In October 2017, HMAS Perth (FFH-157) was scheduled to be reactivated following the completion of scheduled maintenance; however, it remains in lay-up due to crew shortages (as shown in Figure 3.1 and Figure 3.2). Navy has advised a crew is expected to become available between July 2019 (medium confidence) and January 2020 (high confidence).
A freshly upgraded HMAS Perth has been stuck on land for almost 2 years because there's simply not enough crew to man her. An embarrassing new report has detailed the Defence Force is struggling to attract qualified personnel.. A weakness picked up by potential overseas threats pic.twitter.com/5S3lX6LOEo
— Natalie Forrest (@nat_forrest) June 6, 2019
And in case you are wondering, Defence’s understanding of ‘high confidence’ differs slightly from the average Australian’s assessment of this phrase. It is only three months since Defence had ‘high confidence’ HMAS Perth would be back at sea by 2020 but the Australian Financial Review is now reporting that it will be high and dry until at least 2021. On current trends, by the time 2021 arrives HMAS Perth will be scheduled to slip into the sea some time towards the end of next decade.
But it wasn’t supposed to be like this.
For the last seven years Defence has been telling us that its new woke recruiting priorities would prevent this type of thing from occurring. Instead, we were told, they would increase access to talent and boost defence recruitment facing strain from competition due to the mining boom.
But now the mining boom has ended. And still the proof of the pudding has come in.
When considering how the rubber hits the road in this woke program, the steel has not hit the sea. The ship hasn’t sailed at all.
Since Labor’s Stephen Smith unleashed a cultural revolution inside the Australian Defence Force in 2012 (with the willing help of the Australian Human Rights Commission), Defence Recruiting has shunned normal blokes and pitched itself to Muslims, the rainbow brigade and expectant mothers.
Defence has even issued glossy documents hundreds of pages long that literally herald a return of Xena warrior princesses, while others have point-blank stated that the number of Anglo-Australian males in the military is undesirable.
Millions of taxpayer dollars have been spent advertising Defence to everyone but those who are most interested in serving: young Anglo-Australian men.
To encourage gender equality and diversity in the workplace, personnel in Sydney painted their pinky fingernails pink as a visual indication of support. pic.twitter.com/AK9JqszdR6
— Defence Australia (@DeptDefence) July 28, 2018
If these dollars had been an effective use of taxpayer funds, HMAS Perth would be a lesbian love-boat, bristling with weapons, sailing across the sea.
But, alas, it isn’t.
Maybe there just aren’t that many lesbians to go around. Maybe there are but they just aren’t interested.
But we do know this.
Planning the future defence of the nation on the assumption that hordes of rainbow women will sign up to serve does not seem to be a winning strategy.
For whatever reason (and there are many) it just has not worked. There might be a throng of angry feminists ready to tweet hurtful things about a pale, male and stale Defence Force, but there are only a trickle of them who are actually ready to sign up for the new age military.
And now HMAS Perth sits dry as a monument to the colossal stupidity of revolutionising Defence recruiting to sate the rage of inner city elites who have never served and will never do so. It won’t sail until at least 2021 and that time frame could well drift further into the future.
For the last three years the number of males joining the Australian Defence Force has fallen. And last year, for the first time since recruitment was revolutionised, blokes leaving the military outnumbered the women signing up.
The newly-feminised Defence Force has started shrinking.
Men who are interested in wars and guns and killing and fighting have just opted out and it should not be hard to understand why.
This problem could be solved tomorrow with a bit of common sense. But that’s in short supply so don’t be surprised to hear of other similar debacles in the future.
After all, our new Defence Minister, Senator Linda Reynolds, has previously claimed that sporting codes such as the AFL and NRL would be improved if women were competing alongside men in their elite competitions.
Why? Because she says it’s working so well in the Australian Defence Force…