Wednesday, 24 February 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. Will the minister please update the House on the Morrison government's Australian approach to ensuring our Defence Force capabilities are world leading and keeping Australians safe?
I thank the honourable member for his question and for his great support of our defence personnel, particularly those in his electorate. There are many countries around the world that can't afford to invest adequately in their defence personnel and defence assets. This country, though, is at the other extreme. We have put $270 billion into defence capability over the next 10 years. We've done that because we've been able to manage the budget well and we've been able to respond to COVID in a way that many other countries around the world have not been able to respond. It's absolutely important that we do so. We need to make sure that we have adequate investment in our defence personnel and the equipment they use because we do face very difficult times.
The Australian Defence Force now has a 33-aircraft fifth-generation Joint Strike Fighter fleet that is ready for operational deployment. We're acquiring two additional P-8 Poseidon aircraft to enhance our maritime surveillance and antisubmarine capabilities. We have down-selected the Arafura offshore patrol vessel as a minehunter and hydrographic survey vessel. That is a $5 billion program in itself. We're investing up to $800 million to acquire new fleets of Australian-built amphibious vehicles and landing craft. We've selected the Apache Guardian as our new armed reconnaissance helicopter.
The Morrison government's defence budget provides a stable funding pathway for the next decade, and that is acknowledged by our military partners and friends, not only in this region but around the world. People look to Australia for the way we invest in our people and the assets that we need to keep Australia safe and to keep our region safe. I pay tribute to the Minister for Defence and the Minister for Defence Industry for the way in which they have driven the investment so that there is a significant spend in businesses in our electorates across the country. It creates jobs. If you distil these billions of dollars, it means componentry and parts are purchased from engineering firms and suppliers in the chain right across the country. At this time that is incredibly important, because we want to make sure that, as we recover from COVID and roll out the vaccine, we get people into jobs. That is the priority of this government.
We will continue to make sure that we support our personnel. We know that their engagement with the businesses who are providing that equipment is essential. We have the best trained people in the world. We intend to continue to manage the budget well so that we can continue to have record investment in that very necessary part of government expenditure.