Thursday, 2 September 2021
Questions without Notice
Australian Defence Force
My question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the minister please update the House on how the Morrison government's investment in cutting-edge technology is equipping our Defence Force with the capability they need to keep Australians safe, especially with global uncertainty?
I thank the honourable member for her question and for her very significant support of the Australian Defence Force and the personnel who live in her electorate. The reality for our country and region is that we are living in a very uncertain time. Over the coming years and, indeed, over the coming decades, we know that the Indo-Pacific will be as uncertain as it was in the run-up to the Second World War. We are worried about the situation in the Indo-Pacific at the moment. That is why it's important for Australia to take the steps now to protect and defend our country and to keep our country safe. We have invested significantly in the Australian Defence Force in the course of the last eight years and we will continue to do that. There's a lot of building and rebuilding taking place, after the Labor Party took money from the Defence Force.
We are putting more into personnel and equipment. We are putting $1 billion into the sovereign guided weapons enterprise, which boosts skills and creates jobs. It helps to create Australia's sovereign defence capability and it is a significant deterrent to people—our detractors, our adversaries—who might think that Australia is a soft target. We are investing $15 billion over 10 years into Defence's cyber and information warfare capabilities. We know that that investment is critical in the era of grey-zone warfare and we know that there are many companies, there are many institutions, including health institutions, that were targeted in the course of COVID, particularly last year but again this year. These cyberattacks are prolific.
We need to make sure that we have significantly more invested in our defences and also our offensive capability. In the Australian Signals Directorate, within the Australian Department of Defence, we have a world-leading agency that works very closely with the NSA in the United States and other agencies to keep Australians safe—that is, to keep our defence industry safe, to make sure that we keep families safe in our country and to keep those in small business safe. It doesn't stop there. We've also invested in a significant way to work with the United States to comprehensively develop the precision strike missile—referred to otherwise as PrSM—which is a surface-to-surface, all-weather precision-strike guided missile, capable of destroying, neutralising and suppressing diverse targets at ranges of 70 to over 400 kilometres.
We are managing the economy well. We're managing the budget as best we can in the circumstances, because we want to invest in those things, not only to help us get out of the lockdown as soon as possible but also, of course, for the safety and security of our country.