House debates

Thursday, 8 February 2024

Questions without Notice


3:08 pm

Photo of Louise Miller-FrostLouise Miller-Frost (Boothby, Australian Labor Party) Share this | | Hansard source

My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry. How will the Albanese government's tax cuts support Australia's defence industry, and why is this so important?

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

I thank the fabulous member for Boothby, from the great defence state of South Australia, for that question. I note that the taxpayers of Boothby—all 84,000 of them—will get an average tax cut of $1,592. The truth is that the defence industry is a critical partner to the Australian Defence Force as we enter a great period of strategic uncertainty. That's why the Albanese Labor government is spending record amounts in the Australian defence industry, much greater than what was going on under the opposition leader. We've been very open that one of the challenges is to attract and retain skilled defence workers. That's why these tax cuts are so important. That's why these will make such an impact in helping our defence industry. A sheetmetal worker earning $70,000 a year will get a tax cut of $1,429, a technician on $90,000 a year will get a tax cut of $1,929, a welder on $110,000 will receive a tax cut of $2,429, and an engineer or an electrician on $130,000 a year will receive a tax cut of $3,379. These tax cuts are great for defence workers, they'll help with the cost of living, they'll reward workers for their hard work in a vital industry, they'll encourage more careers in the defence industry and they'll incentivise upskilling.

I'm asked, 'Why are these tax cuts so important?' They're important because it's critical to deliver the key ADF platforms we need to defend this country, and it's critical to get the skilled workforce to do that. It's important to repair the damage done by the opposition leader when he was the defence minister. This is an opposition leader who allowed 28 major defence project to run 97 years late.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The minister will resume his seat. The Manager of Opposition Business on a point of order.

Photo of Paul FletcherPaul Fletcher (Bradfield, Liberal Party, Shadow Minister for Government Services and the Digital Economy) Share this | | Hansard source

On relevance: there's no reference to alternative policies. The minister made a threadbare attempt to justify this but he knows full well this is absolutely straining the bounds of relevance. He should be directed back to the terms of the question.

Photo of Milton DickMilton Dick (Speaker) Share this | | Hansard source

The question was about why this is so important. I don't that it's necessary for the minister to give a critique on the Leader of the Opposition, but he'll need to explain to the House why the changes are important rather than just giving a criticism of the opposition. He has the call.

Photo of Pat ConroyPat Conroy (Shortland, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Defence Industry) Share this | | Hansard source

As I was explaining, it's critical to build and retain a skilled defence industry workforce to repair projects and get them back on track, because of what occurred under the opposition leader. He had 28 projects running 97 years late and $6½ billion over budget. It's important to get skilled workers because we had the last government spend $114 million on a naval shipbuilding college that trained zero workers—not a single worker. It is important for these tax cuts to attract workers into the defence industry so that we do not repeat the opposition leader's mistakes of allowing supply vessels to not have safe drinking water for our brave sailors.

This is the truth. Now the opposition leader is saying that the 100,000 workers who depend upon the defence industry don't deserve these tax cuts. The truth is, the opposition leader can't be trusted on tax cuts and he cannot be trusted on national security. (Time expired)