The Australian National Audit Office has released a report on defence’s biggest 25 projects.

The report finds that the total budget for the projects in June 2020 was $78.7bn, an increase of $24.2bn compared with when they reached “second pass approval” – although this is not just cost overruns but includes changes in scope.

For example, the joint strike fighter program will cost $14bn more than first thought, but $10.5bn of that is because Australia is purchasing 58 more fighters.

In terms of capability, 19 of the 25 will deliver all their capability requirements. The five projects “experiencing challenges with expected capability delivery” are the Joint Strike Fighter, MRH90 Helicopters, Hawkei, Battlefield Command System and Battlefield Airlifter.

One project office (AWD Ships) reports that it is unable to deliver all of the required capability by [final operational capability].

Fifteen of the 25 projects have experienced delays due to Covid-19, due to supply chain disruption, workforce limitations and contractor delays.

The defence department said the average delay is 3 to 6 months.
The ANAO found:

“The total schedule slippage for the 25 selected Major Projects, as at 30 June 2020, was 507 months when compared to the initial schedule … The total slippage of 507 months in 2019–20 is 144 months lower than the total in 2018–19 of 651 months.”









The final report of the royal commission into police informants has been handed down in Victoria.

Commissioner Margaret McMurdo made 111 recommendations, including appointing a special investigator to examine whether crimes have been committed by current and former Victorian police officers or lawyer Nicola Gobbo.

The force’s handling of Gobbo during the gangland war sparked the royal commission, which was announced almost two years ago.

The full report can be found here.

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Australia seeks official apology and tweet removal

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Scott Morrison responds to Chinese government ‘repugnant’ tweet

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Chinese foreign ministry spokesperson Zhao Lijian’s tweet about the Brereton report was accompanied by an inflammatory image that appears to depict an Australian soldier cutting the throat of a civilian holding a sheep, together with the words: “Don’t be afraid, we are coming to bring you peace!”

The digitally altered image also shows a large Australian flag behind the soldier covering what appears to be a number of body shapes.

It’s not the first time this image has been posted online. An image search indicates that someone who describes themselves as a “China affiliated netizen” posted the image on Twitter on 25 November as part of a tweet complaining about Australia’s previous criticism of the Chinese government over human rights.

We have approached the Chinese embassy in Canberra for comment, but the fact Zhao also raised the issue at a regular press conference last week indicates Beijing is seizing on the Afghanistan war crimes report to accuse Australia of double standards on human rights.

Earlier today, the Australian trade minister, Simon Birmingham, brushed off criticism from Russia over the Brereton report by saying that Australia had “shown a degree of accountability and transparency through the review that we’ve undertaken, published and responding to that is sorely lacking in a number of other countries”.

He told ABC News Breakfast:


I think Australia can take pride in the overwhelming work of the vast majority of our servicemen and women. Obviously, these are terrible instances that have occurred, but unlike other countries who may well just sweep these things under the carpet, we undertook a thorough investigation. We’ve been transparent about it and we’re applying remedies to address it and you wouldn’t see that in many other parts of the world.

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