Thursday, 3 September 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Defence, Senator Reynolds. Can the minister outline how the Morrison government is keeping Australians safe by ensuring the Australian Army has the firepower, mobility and protection it needs on the modern battlefield?
I thank Senator Henderson not only for her question but for her passion and her relentless commitment to defence industry in Victoria. The first role of this government, and indeed any Australian government, is to keep Australia and Australians safe. That's why this government is investing $270 billion over the next decade into upgrading our defence capabilities, and this includes $55 billion into new land capabilities. This will ensure our land forces have greater lethality, greater range, greater mobility and, most importantly, great survivability for our troops. We must equip our Army to deter potential adversaries in the region and to be able to respond with credible force. That's why this government is investing in strike weapons, watercraft, helicopters, armoured fighting vehicles, logistic capabilities and also emerging robotics and autonomous systems.
Our region's challenging environment also demands that our Army can fight across a range of different domains and a range of regions. Thanks to this coalition government, the ADF now has an outstanding amphibious capability centred on our two magnificent Canberra class LHDs. Larger and more capable Army watercraft will support rapid regional deployment of ADF land capabilities, and they will be capable of independent and also task force operations. These investments, and the many more that we've outlined in the Force structure plan, are essential to our nation and essential to Australia maintaining our capability edge.
Again, thanks, Senator Henderson, for that great enthusiasm for the greater Geelong region. Today I was pleased to announce that Defence will shortly release a request for tender to Hanwha Defense Australia to build, and also to sustain over the longer term, 30 self-propelled howitzers in Geelong. This is an important next step in progressing the Morrison government's 2019 election commitment to providing this essential capability for Army. This will create up to 350 jobs, and, by reviving this project that Labor so scandalously cancelled, this government is ensuring our Army has the combat power it needs. It is this Morrison government that is ensuring Australian industry involvement in the delivery of this capability over the next decade, and that means jobs for Australians.
We've got the trifecta! There's great passion from Senator Henderson for Bendigo as well. Today I also announced that the ADF's new Australian-designed and Australian-built Hawkei light protected mobility vehicle will enter full-rate production—that is, 50 vehicles per month. Hawkei production, by Thales Australia, will sustain over 200 jobs in Bendigo and an additional 180 nationwide. Most importantly, the Hawkei will again better protect the lives of our Australian soldiers. Hawkei has provided vital business continuity for many small businesses in Victoria, particularly important during this time as Victoria deals with the COVID-19 outbreak. This is yet another wonderful example of Defence and Australian industry managing business practices in a COVID-safe environment so we can continue to deliver Australian ADF capability.