$5.5 Billion Cut From Defence Budget

Prime Minister Julia Gillard, Defence Minister Stephen Smith and Minister for Defence Materiel Jason Clare announced major cuts to the defence budget

Australia’s defence spending was cut by over $5 billion in the federal budget in an attempt to get back to a surplus. $3 billion will be cut from hardware acquisitions, such as the delay of joint-strike fighters, reducing its non-military staff and cuts of $1.2 billion in capital works.

In an article by the Sydney Morning Herald, it uses the angle of the where the cuts from the defence budget have come from. It says that the cuts “not only allowed the Treasurer his much-vaunted surplus, but they also allow the government to delay critical decisions about the shape of the military until the delivery of the 2013 white paper.” The expanded army is called John Howard’s “baby” which has been cut back by Labor. The article lists in greater detail where the savings will be made.

The story has currency and proximity. The currency of the story is that the budget was just released and it is generating great interest in the news, going beyond just the defence cuts of the budget. The proximity of the story is all of Australia, the budget affects all of Australia and the any changes in defence will affect the entire nation in terms of security and the change in budget.

An article in the Australian shows the reaction from the opposition defence spokesman, David Johnston, called the announcements “a slap in the face for Defence”. He said with national assets being  oil, gas and coal exports, the country’s maritime security was of great importance as Australia is dependent on it.

Both articles gives balance to the article with presenting both sides but the Australian gives more room to the response of the opposition to the cuts and their criticisms.



US Drone Attack in Pakistan Kills At Least Nine Insurgents

US drone attacks in Pakistan has killed up to nine possible insurgents

US drone attacks in Pakistan targeting a militia compound has killed at least nine insurgents near the Afghan border. According to Pakistani officials, two missiles hit and destroyed the compound. The drone program in Pakistan is ” highly unpopular in Pakistan where it is considered a violation of sovereignty which causes unacceptable civilian casualties.”

In an article by Reuters, it uses the angle of the missiles killing the insurgents. It makes mention of how the program is opposed in Pakistan, and says how the US have no intention of stopping the campaign and that the use of the drones is legal under international law. The article has conflict between the insurgents and the US as well as from the negative reaction from the locals.

The Guardian’s article on the strike uses more evocative words in its lead, saying an “American drone has fired a volley of missiles into a house close to the Afghan border, killing up to nine suspected militants,” this highlights the conflict and the drama of the event. It says that the targeted area was a training ground for Islamic militants from around the world. The Pakistani parliament has called for the end of the strikes but there have been significantly fewer strikes in the country this year.

The story has currency with the strikes being an ongoing issue and has links with previous drone strikes in Yemen. ABC News also covered this story, citing a higher death toll at 10 in their,  it also cites statistics of the casualties in Pakistan from the drone attacks to date. “According to an AFP tally, 45 US missile strikes were reported in Pakistan’s tribal belt in 2009, the year Mr Obama took office, 101 in 2010 and 64 in 2011.”


Shoe-bomber Says Osama bin Laden Wanted Follow Up to 9/11

British shoe bomber Saajid Muhammad Badat

This British man trained to be a shoe-bomber revealed how Osama bin Laden told him soon after 9/11 that follow up attacks could cripple the US economy. Badat told the court of his meeting with the al-Qaeda leader.

In an article in the Guardian, it uses the angle of Badat’s meeting with Osama bin Laden and what was said to him.

“He said the American economy is like a chain,” Badat said. “If you break one one link of the chain, the whole economy will be brought down. So after September 11 attacks, this operation will ruin the aviation industry and in turn the whole economy will come down.”

The story is significant because of the ties with the 9/11 terrorist attacks, Badat was convicted in London after a 2001 plot to bring down an American Airlines Flight from Paris to Miami with the use of a shoe-bomb. He is now testifying the case against Adis Medunjanin who is accused of receiving terrorist training and planning to bomb subways in New York.

An article in the Daily Mail uses a similar angle of his involvement with Osama bin Laden, but mentions earlier how Badat was released early from a prison sentence in return for giving evidence in terror cases.  The Daily Mail article leads with calling Badat a “supergrass” which is British slang for an informant. This shows that even in assisting in court cases against terrorists, there is still a strong negative connotation associated with Badat and his current actions, as well as his past ones.

The news values in both stories are currency, it being a current court case, impact, with terrorism being a global issue and Badat being associated with 9/11, as well as prominence in the case of Osama bin Laden.

Fraser Says US Marine Presence in Darwin a Mistake

US Marines being greeted on arrival in Australia

Defence Minister Stephen Smith officially welcomed the US Marines in Darwin, former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser has come out saying that it is a mistake to have a “base” in the Northern Territory and that it will hamper ties with Asia. In a submission to the Gillard government, “Mr Fraser has criticised Australia’s subservience to the US as a product of misguided assumptions America offers a security guarantee.”

An article by the Sydney Morning Herald uses the angle of Fraser’s comments that Australia gives the impression of doing what America wants and how that will affect our relationship with Asia. The articles has the news value of prominence in Malcolm Fraser, currency in the arrival of the US Marines in Darwin and the impact in the potential repercussions with Asia.

Malcolm Fraser disagrees with the government saying that there is no base in Darwin, Fraser said that “for America to say that 2500 troops do not constitute a base is nonsense, indeed a fabrication.” He said that he was not against the alliance with the US, but was in favour of Australian independence.

Former Prime Minister, Malcolm Fraser

The US Marine landing attracted a lot of news coverage with Fraser’s reaction to it being newsworthy due to his prominence. Fraser’s point of view is shown but the article omits the response from the government and other related people. It gives a limited view of the landing but shows an interesting perspective by Fraser who questions our relationship with the US and instead sees our future as lying in Asia.

Related articles:



Defence Force has Failed Diggers

The Australian Defence Force has failed to properly care for wounded soldiers

Australian soldiers wounded in dangerous zones around the world have been neglected by the Defence Force, according new documents showing that wounded soldiers are “falling through the gaps.” After they serve the country and maintain our security as well as assisting those overseas, the Defence Force failed to provide adequate support after an injury occurred.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald uses the angle of wounded Diggers are not receiving proper care from the Defence Force, saying that the biggest inadequacies come in the form of processes of rehabilitation, compensation and transition to normal civilian life. With the focus being on the people who protect our nation and how they’re not receiving proper care, it has an emotional resonance with all Australians and gives it great impact.

The article is able to get an emotional response from the reader when it says “By late 2010, many of the 200 soldiers and sailors wounded in Afghanistan alone were, at times, being in effect abandoned because of a mire of bureaucratic and institutional failings. The number of wounded in action from the decade-long war is now 219, with 32 dead. The toll from the six-year engagement in Iraq is three dead and 27 wounded in action.” The high number of casualties in the region shows the impact of the tour for soldiers and it shows that the system if failing due to poor management.

The review made 31 recommendations, including up IT systems and speeding up the slow claims processing system. As with many other articles on Australia’s involvement in the Middle East, this, too, draws parallels with Vietnam and the failures the military had in that war.

This video from Fairfax Media shows Private Paul Warren, who lost his leg when on tour, discussing his recover

Further reading:


The Army Post-Afghanistan

The Australian Army has in place plans to withdraw from Afghanistan

An opinion article  from the Financial Review criticises the government’s lack of commitment to a set concrete withdrawal date from Afghanistan and the large amount of money spent in the country. The artical is critical of the motives of the Labor government, saying that “overzealous Gillard staff attempts to exploit whatever opportunity presents itself in an otherwise bleak landscape.” The articles quotes David Morrison, chief of the army, in saying that Australia must not weaken army like it did in Vietnam.

As the article is an opinion piece, it is able to be extremely critical in its assessment of the current government. It draws upon a lot of the major news stories of recent times regarding Australia and its defence, most notably the submarines and Australia’s need to carefully balance its alliance with the US and relations with Asia. The article has currency, speaking on ongoing stories and giving an opinion on the news stories. The article highlights an uncertainty in regards to Australia’s future defence and relationships with neighbouring nations.

It mentions that Australia has to defend an entire so the proximity of the article becomes nationwide. The article portrays the current government as poor, saying that any plans to change the defence white paper in 2014 will most likely won’t be made by Labor as the article says that “Labor will probably not be around” in 2014. The structure of an opinion article allows the writer to not focus on objectivity, giving the read a specific viewpoint on an issue and allows them to form a more detail understanding of the issues at hand.


Dangerous Wait for New Submarines

A Collins-class submarine, six of which are currently used by the navy

According to a new study, Australia could be left without any submarines for crucial years during the Asia-Pacific Century. The paper by the Australian Strategic Policy Institute says there has been a significant lack of progress by the government to replace the Collins-class submarines.

An article in the Sydney Morning Herald uses the news angle of the danger Australia will face if Australia lacked the means to properly defend itself and tensions between the worlds superpowers were to escalate, with a conflict “played out in Australia’s backyard.” The lead creates a dramatic picture of the possibility of a conflict between global naval powers. The article has this conflict central to its story, the Collins submarines are to be replaced with 12 more advanced submarines by 2030.

But this plan could leave Australia facing a “scenario involving a failure to overlap properly the phase-out of the Collins with the phase-in of new submarines,” leaving our naval defence severely limited. The paper states that ”Defence’s upper estimate is nothing short of catastrophic … in this scenario, Australian submarine capability would essentially be run down and then restarted,” showing an impact on all of Australia if our defence was to be weakened this significantly.

The currency of the article is on a recently released paper, although it is foreshadowing nearly 20 years into the future. With it so far down the track it lessens the impact of a limited Australian defence somewhat, but the way the articles says major powers could be pitted against each other affects all Australians. The ongoing issue of Australia’s relations with China is reflected in this article, with it highlighting a worst case scenario.

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Man Convicted for Conspiring to Help Al Qaeda Raises Questions About Freedom of Speech

Tarek Mehanna seen in this image from video footage taken in Boston in 2009

A man from Massachusetts was found guilty of conspiring to support al-Qaeda and sentenced to 17 years in prison. Tarek Mehanna, 29, an American from Boston, was arrested in 2009 and charged with conspiracy to kill in a foreign country, lying to law enforcement officers and for “providing material support to terrorists.” An article in the Guardian uses the angle of the questions raised for freedom of speech in America.

There are arguments that even though Mehanna was making videos to spread the ideology of al Qaeda by translating translating extremist documents and posting terrorist propaganda on the internet, the First Amendment  should protect that speech. Some believe extremist Muslims get different to other extremist groups, the article in the Guardian argues that Mehanna simply shared material that is easily available on the internet and that there is no evidence that he plotted to take an terrorist action in the US.

Other news outlets reported the sentencing with no mention of the implications to Freedom of Speech. An article by Reuters posted before his sentencing uses the angle of the opposing viewpoints, one that Mehanna should serve at least 25 years in prison and the other side saying that he never intended to hurt anyone. This creates conflict in the lead, and carries on throughout the article with the the two sides shown in contrast to one another.

An article in the Daily Mail outlines the aftermath of Mehanna’s sentencing. Mehanna’s supporters are shown in the article and tells of their angry reaction to the verdict. Mehanna’s attorneys said that “his translation and distribution of controversial publications was free speech protected by the First Amendment.” The Free Speech aspect garnered strong reactions, some coverage exclusively focused on this part of the story. The issue of Muslim extremists being treated differently compared to other extremists is a question for how the courts treat it as well as how the media covers it.

Related articles:


Australia Pursues Wrong Military Spending Strategy According to Expert

A leading defence analyst says Australia is pursuing the wrong military spending strategy

In an interview on ABC’s The World Today, former Defence Department analyst, Alan Dupont, criticised the government’s relationship with the US and that it is putting the relationship with China and other regional neighbours at risk. An article in Adelaide Now uses the research paper by Alan Dupont to say that Australia is pursuing the wrong military strategy.

He said it was dangerous to spend large amounts of money on Joint Strike Fighters and submarines in these tough financial times. The article makes no mention of Dupont’s comments on Australia’s relationship with the US and its regional neighbours. In the abc interview, Dupont said that the Government’s last White Paper gave the impression that China may be a military threat.

The Adelaide Now article has the new values of  impact and conflict. The impact of the story is military spending and how that may be unsustainable. There is a suggestion of conflict between the Government’s spending and the the turbulence of the current financial environment.

In ABC’s interview, Dupont comments on the ongoing issue of Australia and China’s relationship. There has been some concern about whether or not China is a threat, to this Dupont said that he doesn’t see China as a military threat, but he also says that China is anxious about Australia’s alliance with the US. He said clear communication with China should be in place to help ease any possible tensions. The news values in the interview are the possible conflict between China and Australia and proximity in that all Australian’s are affected by spending and the impact of our alliances.


Darwin Relaxed at Arrival of Marines

Darwin relaxed with the arrival of US Marines

An article in the Australian on the arrival of US Marines uses the headline of “Darwin relaxed at US Marines invasion” to give a focus on the locals in a story that has been given widespread coverage. Most news outlets focused on the political issues and the impact on Australia and its neighbours.

Calling it an “invasion” gives the impression of an unwanted arrival, but the article itself says that the people in Darwin “are really looking forward to it.” Having a local take on the Marines gives a different perspective to that provided by many other news stories. It says that Darwin has taken a low-key approach and that many were not even aware of the impending arrival of the US Marines.

The news values in the story are currency, the ongoing story of the US Marines which was announced in November last year by Barack Obama, the proximity of the story is on the impact on locals in Darwin. The story quotes the Mayor of Darwin, Katrina Fong Lim, who says that there is some trepidation but people are generally looking forward to it. The story adds a humourous quote by Chamber of Commerce chief executive Chris Young who says he hopes that the Marines will integrate with locals and “party hard.”

This gives a more lighthearted approach to a story that was covered mostly with the focus on the potential impact of the Marine’s arrival on Australia and Asia.