Thursday, 24 October 2019
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for International Development and the Pacific. Will the minister outline to the House how the Morrison government's secure and stable economic management is making our region more stable and secure by assisting our Pacific family to secure their own economic prosperity? Minister, do you know of any alternative approaches?
Opposition members interjecting—
It's nice to be popular! I want to thank the member for Fairfax for his question, and I note his strong advocacy of Australia's role in our region. With a strong and stable economy we're obviously able to play a strong role in the Pacific assisting our Pacific family, protecting their security, including their environmental and economic security. It's the Morrison government that's concerned about enacting on the illegal unreported and unregulated fishing activities in our region, which cost our Pacific family over $150 million every single year in stolen fish and lost economic opportunity. Of course, for the same reason our government is working on tackling ocean plastics. This, combined with improved illegal fishing compliance activities, will see fish stocks in the regions lift. As the Prime Minister has noted—and I think it's important for the House to remember—without action, scientists tell us that in the next 30 years the weight of plastics caught in our oceans will outweigh the number of fish in our oceans. Australia, of course, is going to keep doing its bit to make sure the economic security of our region is secure.
The landmark Pacific Maritime Security Program will see the construction of 21 Guardian class patrol boats, 19 of which will be gifted to the Pacific and two to Timor-Leste between now and 2023. These patrol boats, built by Austal, here in Western Australia, will have greater range, allowing for them to be longer at sea, and assist in the fight against illegal fishing, thereby aiding our economic security.
Just this week, the Australian Defence Force completed Operation Solania. It's the latest mission to support the ongoing fight against illegal fishing in the South West Pacific, with a focus on the exclusive economic zones of the Solomon Islands, the Federated States of Micronesia and, of course, Palau. I want to thank all the ADF personnel and the DFAT staff who contributed to the great success of Operation Solania. Our ongoing strong economy enables this significant support in the form of the patrol boat program to Pacific countries to help them tackle illegal fishing.
And I'm asked by the member for Fairfax if there are any alternative policy approaches to the stable and certain budget management that we have. Well, the Morrison government will be delivering 57 new naval vessels in our time through our strong budget management. Of course, I've looked for an alternative to the commissioning of 57 new naval vessels, but it's not 47, it's not 37 and it's not 27 in the alternative policy from the opposition that they will commission. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: it isn't seven vessels. I say to the Leader of the Opposition: you, in your six years in government, delivered no vessels—none. Fifty seven vessels have been commissioned by this government and zero from the Leader of the Opposition. Of course, it's strong economic management that enables the ability to build 57 vessels. It's strong economic management that restores the defence budget and allows us to secure the prosperity of our Pacific family and our region.