House debates

Tuesday, 16 October 2018

Questions without Notice

Defence Industry

2:56 pm

Photo of Trevor EvansTrevor Evans (Brisbane, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry. Can the minister outline to the House how our government is growing Australia's defence industry? What are the risks and what's at stake from alternative approaches?

Photo of Steven CioboSteven Ciobo (Moncrieff, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Brisbane for his question because everyone on this side of the chamber is absolutely passionate about what it is that the Liberal and National government is doing for Australia's SME sector and, in particular, the way in which we're delivering for Australian small and medium-sized businesses through our $200 billion build-up of sovereign capability when it comes to Australia's defence industry. The fact is that the Liberal-National government is repairing the damage that was done to Australia's defence posture as a consequence of six years of inaction by the former Labor government.

The way we are doing it has two prongs. The first is to ensure that we build our domestic capability. We are doing that with a substantial investment—

Dr Mike Kelly interjecting

Photo of Tony SmithTony Smith (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The member for Eden-Monaro is warned.

Photo of Steven CioboSteven Ciobo (Moncrieff, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

an investment that we're able to make in Australia's defence posture as a direct consequence of the strong economic stewardship of the Liberal and National government. It's only because we've been able to get the budget back under control that we've been able to invest in building up Australia's defence industry. We are deeply committed to businesses like those found in the member for Brisbane's electorate—businesses like Explosive Protective Equipment, a family-owned business in his electorate that employs 22 hardworking Aussies. All across Australia we've got so many examples of great Australian SMEs. There are some 3,000 or so that employ around 13,000 hardworking Australians in this sector. And, because we've got the budget under control, we can invest this $200 billion.

The second prong of our strategy is to make sure that we provide direct support to boosting the prospects of Australia's SME sector. We are doing that through policy settings that ensure that we have overcome the challenges that were left behind by the Australian Labor Party.

When the member for Brisbane asks about risks, there are substantial risks not only to Australia's economic position from the Australian Labor Party if they are elected at the next election but also to Australia's defence and Australia's defence industry. What we saw when Labor was last in power was six years of inaction. We saw the Australian Labor Party preside over a situation where they did not put in a single order for a new boat while they were in government, and so we saw the peaks and the troughs of a lack of investment in Australia's defence industry. It has taken now the Liberal-National government to build capacity by $200 billion and to put in place the continuous shipbuilding plan, which will create 15,000 jobs and see an investment of $89 billion. Only a strong Australian economy can make that kind of investment, and only the Liberal and National government can, through prudent economic management, make sure that we create opportunities for small business, create employment for Australians and make sure there is a strong, continuous pipeline of new opportunities.