House debates

Wednesday, 5 December 2018

Questions without Notice

Defence Industry

2:36 pm

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Fisher, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the minister update the House on how a strong economy enables government to embark on record spending in defence, creating a sovereign defence capability? How would a weaker economy, through higher taxes, put this investment at risk?

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the member for Fisher for his question. The member for Fisher is a great advocate for the defence industry in his electorate, particularly a company called HeliMods, which gets a great deal of attention from the member for Fisher. He is also using the heft of the government spending on defence to help grow the economy in Fisher, his electorate on the Sunshine Coast, and he should be commended for it.

Because we are running a surplus budget, because we are building a strong economy, we can invest in the essential services and priorities that the Australian public regard as important without increasing taxes. That is in stark contrast to the Labor Party, who think that you can only increase spending and keep increasing taxes. What this government has done—and this year in particular has been a very busy year for defence and defence industry—what we have done is increase spending in defence, building our military capability, the largest in our peace time history, without increasing taxes. We're using that heft to drive our defence industry boom in this country. I welcome the Minister for Defence Industry to the chamber. He's doing an absolutely sensational job—

Opposition Members:

Opposition members interjecting

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

The minister will pause for a second. Members on my left: you're not going to continue to interject, okay? If you think you've made a joke once, don't make it 10 times. Let's move on.

Photo of Christopher PyneChristopher Pyne (Sturt, Liberal Party, Leader of the House) Share this | | Hansard source

Under the Minister for Defence Industry we wrote $3 billion worth of export permits in the September quarter, one of the highest ever. Applications for defence export permits jumped by 25 per cent in the June quarter. Labor think it's all very funny, but those people who have their jobs in the defence industry, and the servicemen and women of Australia who serve in our Defence Force, who put on the uniform, don't think it's very funny. They think it's amazing that they're getting the equipment and the platforms they need to win in theatres of war, keeping them safe and bringing them home. We don't think it's funny on this side of the House. We see it as a tremendous opportunity to drive a defence industry. This year we have begun construction on the Offshore Patrol Vessels. We've handed over the first of the Pacific Patrol Boats to Papua New Guinea. We've begun construction of the Combat Reconnaissance Vehicle factory in Brisbane in the last month—it was opened by the Minister for Defence Industry, in fact. In June this year we began the construction of the Osborne South Shipyard. We will soon turn a sod on the Osborne North submarine yard. We are investing in shipbuilding in a way that Labor could only dream about. In fact, Labor cut spending on defence by 17.9 per cent in real terms, putting our service men and women at risk.