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Reader ripostes: Rugby and fighter jets

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COMMENTS

12 September 2011 15:29

Paul Cotton responds to Andrew Butcher's piece on rugby diplomacy:

Excellent article, and you might also have mentioned that the US 50-strong delegation to the PIF was headed by Thomas Nides and Kurt Campbell. I don't know Nides background but Campbell was a Rhodes scholar and played Rugby for Oxford for two years. I bet Campbell is down in New Plymouth at the moment supporting the Eagles.

Markus Pfister on the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter:

Australia's commitment to its 100 (a nice round number) F-35s has reared its ugly head just recently — here and here. A coincidence? Perhaps then it is time for another round of discussing the F-35 Lightening II (JSF).

I will not wax too jeremiaic today on Australia's little man syndrome, its needy little desire to be seen to be one of the big boys, although one of these days I must. Suffice it to say that there is a certain kind of person who feels the need to compensate for his perceived inferiority by buying flashy possessions — cars, big-screen TVs, fashionable clothes, that kind of thing. They will even rush out and pay a premium for the privilege of being the first to own flat screen TV, while the savvier purchasers watch their perfectly good, old TVs and wait for the price of flat screens to come down.

The JSF is a good idea. But the Super Hornets are a good stop-gap measure, so there is no hurry. The JSF is new, so the first tranche of the assembly line will have kinks that need ironing out. On the other hand, the JSF will be around for decades. I'm sure Lockheed Martin will be delighted to sell us any number we want, so it's not like we need to rush to the store before they're all sold out.

Let's not buy them now. Let's wait. At the very least, let's not buy 100 — let's buy a tranche, say 25, to ease ourselves into the joys of JSF ownership. And let's be gentlemanly and let every other project partner/customer get their order in before us, placing our order at the end of the queue.

It is time for Australia to stop proving (to nobody) how much of a big shot it is by wasting its money on expensive new status symbols. Let's have the self-confidence to wear last year's dress for one more year. That money could be put to better use.

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