Wednesday, 5 December 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. Will the senator update the Senate on the important investments that this government is making to keep Australia safe while also growing the economy and creating jobs?
I thank Senator Gichuhi for her question because this government, the Liberal-National government, is making an unprecedented $200 billion investment in defence capability over the next decade. The government will grow the defence budget to two per cent of GDP by 2020-21, two years ahead of our election commitment in 2013. We are able to make these investments because of our prudent economic management. This is a commitment which will give the Australian Defence Force members the equipment they need to operate effectively well into the future.
In shipbuilding alone, we are getting on with the building of our 12 Future Submarines, nine Hunter class frigates, 12 offshore patrol vessels and 21 Guardian class patrol boats. We're investing hundreds of millions of dollars in the infrastructure required in preparation for the build and use of these naval vessels. That includes over $1.5 billion of investment in Western Australia at a number of facilities and $535 million at the Osborne South Naval Shipyard, with further redevelopment to occur at the Osborn north submarine yard, also creating hundreds of jobs in that process. We're investing in the build and sustainment of the cutting-edge Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, with construction to be based in Queensland. We've also continued to invest in the acquisition of 72 Joint Strike Fighter aircraft, the first two of which will arrive in Australia next week, a momentous occasion.
I could continue. Briefly, the Poseidon, the Triton maritime surveillance aircraft system, the Reaper remotely piloted aircraft—all of this is possible because of our strong economic management and our commitment to growing our economy and creating jobs.
Senator Gichuhi has lit upon a very important point of the process that we are undertaking. We have set ambitious Australian industry content standards for all our major acquisitions, ensuring that if work can be done in Australia, it is done in Australia. Last week, in fact, an Oxford Economics report found the Hunter class frigate project would create over 6,300 jobs, contribute $17 billion to the Australian economy and use 48,000 tonnes of Australian steel, with over 500 Australian companies prequalified to work on the project. The Future Submarine program itself is expected to create 2,800 jobs. The offshore patrol vessels are expected to create up to 1,000 jobs and the boxer CRVs up to 1,450 jobs nationally, with around 70 per cent Australian industry content and, as I said, the build focused in Queensland. From Perth to Sydney, from Hobart to Darwin, in cities and in regional areas like Rockhampton and Nowra, our investment is paying dividends.
It is disappointing, but I have to say there's no greater threat to defence investment in this country than those opposite, because the last time they were in office their addiction to debt left them unable to make the sort of crucial investments we need to keep Australians safe. During their final three years in office, they cut defence investments by almost 18 per cent, leading to the lowest level of defence spending since 1938, at only 1.56 per cent of GDP. That has real impacts on defence capability and on jobs. Under those opposite—under the Australian Labor Party—119 defence projects were delayed, 43 projects were degraded and eight projects were straight-out cancelled. They didn't commit to the build of one single naval vessel in Australia in six years in government. During their last period in government, defence industry shrank by 10 per cent, so we could not be taking a more different approach than those opposite. We are bringing the budget— (Time expired)