Tuesday, 25 May 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government is backing our economic recovery and creating a stronger Australia by investing in our Defence Force capability and people? Is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?
I thank the honourable member for her question—a great champion of the defence industry in South Australia. We are creating literally thousands of jobs in South Australia and, indeed, right around the country. We are supporting the creation of a megadefence industry. We're investing $270 billion in this decade alone to build defence's capability and to make sure that they are well and truly ahead of any adversaries. We're investing about $24 billion in the Navy guided weapons project to acquire more capable maritime, air and missile defence maritime-strike, anti-submarine and anti-surface warfare weapons systems to provide a strong, credible deterrent that will ensure stability and security in our region. In addition to that, we're investing some $55 billion to modernise our land capability. We will deliver over 200 boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, creating an estimated 1,450 jobs.
Mr Conroy interjecting—
I take the interjection. They were never built on your watch because you cut money out of defence.
Mr Conroy interjecting—
You cut $18 billion out of defence, you dummy. Interject more.
Yes, and you knew who I was talking about, Mr Speaker, didn't you! The reality is that the Labor Party cut defence spending to the lowest level since 1938. It was an outrage. They lost control of our borders. They spent $16 billion on cleaning that mess up. And they took money from our defence personnel. That's the reality.
Now, this government is building for our Defence Force. We are putting money into projects that will employ Australians in regional areas, in South Australia. We're employing people in the Hunter, as the member for Hunter knows, as a former defence minister—and a good defence minister, but not a great defence minister. You can't be a great defence minister if $18 billion is taken from your budget. You can't invest in our personnel, you can't invest in their capability and you cannot hope to keep Australia safe and secure if you pull $18 billion out of the Defence Force. That's the reality.
This government is investing in our country's future. We are investing in the capacity to keep us safe in our region, and we will take whatever decision is necessary to invest in the men and women of the Australian Defence Force. We will make sure that we invest in their present and in their future, because we want to keep our country safe and secure.