Wednesday, 18 October 2023
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry. How is the Albanese Labor government ensuring the Australian Defence Force has the weapons and equipment needed for Australia's national security, and why are improvements in defence capability acquisition needed after a wasted decade in defence procurement?
Opposition members interjecting—
Order! The minister will pause. There is far too much noise. I can't hear a word the minister is saying. The Leader of the Opposition is not helping, and he will cease interjecting. The question was heard in silence. I'm going to ask for silence for the remainder of this minister's answer.
As I was saying, unlike the opposition, we don't govern by media releases. We are bringing forward capabilities to deal with our strategic circumstances. We brought forward the Army's new infantry fighting vehicles, so much so that the last one will come off the production line before the first one would have started under those opposite. We're also urgently fixing the defence procurement mess left by the Leader of the Opposition when he was the Minister for Defence. We're fixing things such as the battlefield airlift aircraft that can't fly into battlefields. We're repairing the patrol boats, on which the opposition leader allowed the use of imported rusty aluminium—imagine that, defence ministers allowing rusty aluminium to be imported! We're also now fixing a significant issue with our navy supply vessels. These are the massive supply ships—
Opposition members interjecting—
Order! The minister will pause. There is far too much noise. The Leader of the Opposition will cease interjecting.
Honourable members interjecting—
Order! The minister will resume his seat. There's far too much noise, and there's now a general warning issued to the entire House, which means, if people continue to interject, they will leave without a warning. The disruption will not continue.
These are the massive vessels that the opposition, when they were in government, offshored. They allowed these vessels to be built in a foreign country because they didn't believe in Australian manufacturing, and now we're seeing serious issues with the quality of work. We have just discovered that metal is leeching from some of the pipes into the drinking water in parts of the ships. This is now so serious that our brave sailors can't access drinking water in parts of these very important vessels, all because of the incompetence of the opposition leader when he was the defence minister. That's what we see from when they were in government.
We're also fixing issues through our reforms to the defence procurement process. We will repair the damage done by the opposition leader when he was in government. Days before the last election the defence minister at the time, the now opposition leader, announced he was throwing out a tender process and sole-sourcing a particular drone, a drone used by a particular number of countries. Those countries were Russia, Myanmar and China. That's the quality of the work from the opposition leader. We have now taken action and reversed that decision. Our government is serious about taking reforms on defence and fixing the projects that he allowed to slip. Under his role as defence minister 28 major projects were running 97 years late and $6½ billion over budget. By contrast, the Albanese Labor government is committed to defending the nation, reforming defence and delivering the capabilities the ADF needs, unlike the opposition leader, who can't be trusted on defence.