House debates

Wednesday, 16 February 2022

Questions without Notice

National Security

2:50 pm

Photo of Angie BellAngie Bell (Moncrieff, Liberal National Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the minister update the House on steps the Morrison government is taking to safeguard Australia amid a deteriorating global security environment by working with strategic partners and allies, and is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the honourable member for her question and acknowledge her own family's history and contribution to this country and to the security of this country. The security of this country is more important than ever given, as the dire situation unfolds in Ukraine, we are seeing in the Indo-Pacific the build-up of missiles and nuclear weapons by the Chinese government. This is a very serious time, and we as a country need to be in a position of strength to work with our allies, to invest appropriately and to make sure that we can take the decisions that will allow us to keep our country safe not only today but in the decades ahead.

This government announced the AUKUS agreement as a key part of the defence of our nation and a very important part in the deterrence of any aggressor who would seek to take action against Australia. The declaration is a clear one from our country, from the United Kingdom and from the United States that we stand as one against aggression and coercion. We don't believe that the alliance between China and Russia is in the world's best interests, and we will continue to take decisions on and make investments in our Australian Defence Force to keep us safe.

There are many people who opposed AUKUS, and I think it is important for people, when I'm asked about alternative approaches, to understand the difference between the sides of the House. Our side built up the investment in Defence after Labor cut it to its lowest level since 1938. We have invested in our relationships. AUKUS is a result of that. It's designed specifically to keep our country safe.

People are asking, 'What would the other side of politics bring if they were elected at the next election?' It's a fair question to ask. If you want to know what an Albanese-Bandt government would do after the next election, what a Labor-Greens Alliance would do—it's an important question—

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition on a point of order?

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Leader of the Opposition) Share this | | Hansard source

The point of order is on the basis of relevance. Obviously the assertion that has just been made there is not true and can't be relevant. The only relevant answer to this question has got to be the failure of this government on submarines—

Photo of Andrew WallaceAndrew Wallace (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Minister for Defence is being relevant to the question.

Photo of Peter DuttonPeter Dutton (Dickson, Liberal Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | | Hansard source

If you ask yourself, 'Why when in government last time did Labor rip money from the Australian Defence Force and take it away from our troops?', in part, it was because of the pressures they put on themselves through the relationship with the Greens. At least the Greens are honest about taking money from defence before an election. The Labor Party always do it after the election. They tell you before the election that they are no different to the coalition, that they will just power on and keep support going. They never do it when they're in government.

We know that the Greens recently announced their policy in relation to AUKUS. The Greens have announced today that, if they have a balance of power after the next election—that is, if they are in a coalition—they will 'push to boldly reform our defence force to ensure a peace focused approach is prioritised', reduce spending to one per cent and break the AUKUS agreement— (Time expired)