House debates

Thursday, 3 September 2020

Questions without Notice

Defence Industry

3:03 pm

Photo of Vince ConnellyVince Connelly (Stirling, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry. Will the minister outline to the House how, despite the COVID-19 recession, the Morrison government is continuing to deliver on its commitment to bolster our national defence capabilities?

Photo of Melissa PriceMelissa Price (Durack, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

It's always a pleasure to get a question from the member for Stirling. I would like to acknowledge his service to our nation and also thank him for his passion and interest in the defence industries.

The Morrison government is investing a record $270 billion in our defence capability. Despite the issues we've all experienced, across our nation, with COVID-19, our plan to invest in defence is guaranteeing our defence capabilities now and into the future. That's what our investment of $270 billion is all about. It's clear that our government's JobKeeper plan has helped to keep the wheels of defence industry moving, and that has been welcomed. Our investment is backing the local tradies and the local companies, especially in regional Australia. Again, this is very welcome.

In Victoria, JobKeeper has been important to support those construction contractors who are working on defence contracts. But don't take my word for it, Mr Speaker. This is what the national CEO of Master Builders Australia, Denita Wawn, said recently: 'JobKeeper is critical for the building and construction sector and continues to be a lifeline for defence construction contractors and subcontractors in Victoria as their operations are severely hampered by the crushing stage 4 lockdown.'

Last week, the Prime Minister and I announced a $1 billion defence package for our defence industry. Included in that $1 billion was a $300 million package to support those bases around the country, with more work for estate and infrastructure—predominately in regional areas but, in particular, with a focus on those bushfire affected regions.

We've done everything we can to get the cash out the door quickly. Defence industry knows that this government has its back. We've paid some 200,000 invoices since March—almost $14 billion in invoices—and, of that, nearly $11 billion of invoice value has been paid early. Defence industry knows that we have its back and that together we're making a significant difference.

In the time remaining, I would like to thank Australia's defence industry. We've had a number of challenges over the period of COVID-19. We've done everything we can to support them. Together with Defence, we have overcome many, many challenges to ensure that we continue to develop our nation's defence capability.