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This government needs to get off its testosterone kick and put the war toys down

Are under-the-counter testosterone shots the Turnbull government's secret weapon in its fight to out-muscle the ALP ahead of the next election?

Recent events suggest that even with a female Defence minister, the stench of male hormones in the Coalition's largely female-free Cabinet room must be overpowering.

Witness Malcolm Turnbull's appearance flanked by masked and heavily armed Commandos on Monday to announce the ADF will be playing a heightened role in combating domestic terrorism.

That photo op came hot on the heels of "fixer", Christopher Pyne's, ambitious plans for a "guns and gunboats" driven economic recovery. The Defence Industry Minister wants to make us the arsenal of the free, and not so free, world.

Then there was Tony Abbot's call for Australia to buy nuclear submarines we wouldn't be able to maintain along with last week's talk about a ballistic missile shield for Darwin.

But Mr Pyne's announcement, which hit the news cycle on Saturday, is the most worrying.

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He argues that as a result of a warship building boom, itself the unintended consequence of a flawed armaments acquisition process that cost many senior public servants and at least one government minister their jobs, Australia will soon be able to undercut some of the best gun runners in the business.

His plan involves using some of the extra $200 billion to be spent on defence acquisitions over the next nine years to create a weapons industry that can "design, build and export ships, vehicles, whatever it might be that we have expertise in".

"Expertise" is an interesting word given that in the last decade tax payers have been lumbered with a three billion dollar bill for two amphibious assault ships that can't move, a $100 million dollar bill for a Royal Navy-sourced landing ship that needed more than $2 million in repairs shortly after delivery and a $1.4 billion bill for Super Seasprite helicopters that never reached operational status.

Given Australian-made defence projects, such as the Collins submarine replacement program, are more about shoring up the government vote in marginal electorates than getting the best weapons for the least money how can we compete against South Korea, China, Russia, America and the Europeans?

Another area for concern is Mr Pyne's avowed willingness to sell armaments to regimes with poor records on human rights and alleged crimes against humanity.

These include the United Arab Emirates and Saudi Arabia.

It is just over six months since the British Government found itself the subject of international opprobrium over the use of cluster bombs it had sold to Saudi Arabia in the 1980s against Houthi rebels in Yemen.

Does Australia really want to find itself in the same boat for the sake of a few dollars?