Wednesday, 9 December 2020
Questions without Notice
I sincerely thank Senator Hughes for that question. Sometimes in this job you have challenging days and sometimes you have simply great days, and today is certainly a great day. The global F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program is delivering the most capable and best value fifth-generation multirole fighter to meet Australia's air power needs. The JSF's introduction into service is progressing well; in fact, I'm delighted to say it is progressing very well. Of the 72 aircraft being acquired, 30 are already in service in Australia, and we have three more on the way. This capability will be the backbone of Air Force's future air combat operations.
This important program is now also delivering unprecedented economic opportunities for businesses right across our nation—opportunities that Australian companies and Australian workers are seizing. This morning I announced that Australian companies have signed contracts worth an astonishing $2.7 billion under the global Joint Strike Fighter program. Over 50 Australian companies have participated in the program to date, and it is expected to support around 5,000—that's 5,000—Australian jobs by 2023 alone. Australian-made parts are now installed on every single Joint Strike Fighter globally—that is, 600 aircraft so far and counting. Whenever a Joint Strike Fighter takes to the sky anywhere around the world, it does so relying on Australian know-how.
This has not just happened; this is a very deliberate part of the Morrison government's plan to strengthen Australian sovereign defence industry. We have created the opportunity for Australian companies to contribute to a large global program for many decades to come.
The Morrison government is investing more than $270 billion to deliver a more potent, agile and capable Australian Defence Force. This includes $65 billion over the next decade to deliver next-generation potent air capabilities. This includes improved weapons systems with longer range and also, importantly, greater survivability. Combining new and existing aircraft with remotely piloted and autonomous systems will also provide increased lethality and survivability. Our collaboration with Boeing on the Loyal Wingman is a prime example. This is the first military aircraft to be designed and built in Australia in more than 50 years. These investments are ensuring that Air Force will continue to have the technologically advanced strike and air combat capability it requires, which is increasingly being built and supported right here in Australia by Australians.
Opposition senators interjecting—
I'm really sorry that those opposite are not really paying attention, because this is about Australian jobs and Australian industry for the long term. This morning, Minister Price and I announced a wonderful example of how our Australian defence industry, supported by this government, is creating more jobs for Australian workers and supporting our comeback from COVID-19.
BAE Systems recently hired 25 former Jetstar employees, following the closure of Jetstar's aircraft maintenance facility near Newcastle. These highly skilled recruits have commenced training to help sustain Australia's growing fleet of Joint Strike Fighter and Hawk Lead-in Fighter aircraft. I was so happy to meet two of them this morning, Ben and Colin. These technical workers have been retained in the Hunter aviation industry. They're now helping Defence build its sovereign sustainment capability, as our fleet continues to grow. (Time expired)