Few Australians will argue at the $156 million pledged in the federal government's budget for military and humanitarian assistance to beleaguered and suffering Ukraine.
We can afford to help - being comparatively better off than most countries in dealing with the short-term disruption and economic fall-out from Russia's outrageous aggression.
Regional Australians already know the war means soaring fuel and fertilizer prices and increased everyday living costs.
Offsetting the pain are the boosted prices for wheat, barley and sunflower seed and record spot prices for iron ore and coal.
Increased investor interest in agribusiness funds suggests also that a war between two major food exporters creates opportunities for their competitors.
Looking longer term, there are undercurrents in Putin's Ukraine gamble potentially detrimental to Australia's interest.
For decades our $430 billion primary sectors have delivered prosperity because of the strong international commitment to a rules-based global trading system.
China's increasing economic belligerence is challenging that order, as is rising populism and nationalism in Europe and the United States.
Together these forces are degrading confidence in forms of economic governance that have delivered so well for Australia.
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With the global trade-to-GDP ratio already on a decade-long slide, Putin's rogue subversion of western sanctions and enlistment of Chinese support compounds a growing insecurity internationally.
Instead of offshore investment exploiting sources of comparative advantage, OECD countries, including Australia, are talking now of the need for 'on-shoring' to protect supply chains and increase self-sufficiency.
It comes at substantial economic cost as do related strategies for increased defence self-reliance.
The discounted security dividend enjoyed by America's allies since 1945 is no longer prudent nor possible.
The $575 billion federal government commitment to upgrading and expanding our military and security capabilities over the next decade is the minimum outlay required for Australia to be an effective partner in the western alliance.
It means the days of spending less than 2 per cent of GDP on defence and security ended with this budget.
Ukraine's struggle reminds us that to be free and masters of our own destiny, besides having committed powerful allies, we must be able to deter potential threats.
To pay for a much bigger defence bill, increasing the productivity and competitiveness of our secondary and tertiary sectors will be essential - as is further development of our regions, especially in the north.
Without such a comprehensive integrated national security and economic development strategy we put both at risk.
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- John Cole, Institute for Resilient Regions, University of Southern Queensland
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