Thursday, 8 February 2018
That the Senate—
(i) the Australian Government's plans to make Australia one of the top ten weapons manufacturers globally, raising us from the 20th to the 10th spot, and
(ii) the dangerous and destructive effects of the global arms trade in fuelling conflicts;
(b) re-affirms the comments of World Vision CEO, Mr Tim Costello, that Australia will be "exporting death and profiting from bloodshed";
(c) condemns the fact that the Government plans to loan $3 billion to arms manufacturers, which is equal to Australia's entire foreign aid budget, which has suffered $11 billion in cuts since 2014, and follows attempts by the Government to cut $2 billion from higher education; and
(d) calls on the Government to cease immediately this plan to turn Australia into a mercenary nation of arms dealers, and instead use the funds to revitalise our manufacturing industry around renewable energy, electric cars, advanced medical technology and education services.
The launch of Australia's first-ever defence exports strategy demonstrates our ambition for Australia as a nation, our Defence Forces, our defence industry and the future of the Australian economy. It is an ambitious, positive plan to boost Australian industry, increase investment and create more jobs for Australians and more opportunities for Australian businesses. The strategic goal is to achieve greater export success to build a stronger, more sustainable and more globally competitive Australian defence industry to support Australia's defence capability needs. All defence exports will continue to be in Australia's broader national interests, including Australia's strategic interest, defence capability, foreign policy and economic policy.
The opposition will not be supporting this motion. Labor supports a strong Australian defence industry. This industry must be underpinned by a world-class export capability. Labor will examine the detail of the government's strategy, but the government needs to do much more to invest in skilling our defence workforce. This includes mandating skills transfer as part of any major defence projects led by foreign primes, ensuring Australian defence industry is best placed to compete for projects internationally.
Labor has been making the case for assisting small- and medium-sized enterprises, including those in defence industries, for a long time. This is why Labor announced the advanced manufacturing fund, a $1 billion loan program to help firms expand and enter new markets overseas. In addition, Labor has always made the case for designing, building and maintaining ships in Australia and for assisting our shipbuilders with becoming competitive in global markets.