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Wednesday, 2 March 2016
Page: 1607

Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (14:23): It is obviously very difficult for me to comment on what Senator Whish-Wilson did or did not expect about the level of investment in defence and national security. What I can say, though, is that this government went to the last election very transparently declaring what our commitment was. Our commitment was to bring defence funding from the disastrously low levels that they went to under the Labor government back up to two per cent of the share of GDP within a certain time frame. We reflected that, and we are implementing that commitment.

The PRESIDENT: Order! Pause the clock. On a point of order, Senator Whish-Wilson?

Senator Whish-Wilson: Mr President, on relevance: I asked whether the government had considered whether that money would be better spent elsewhere. The minister has not answered the question.

The PRESIDENT: I remind the minister of the question.

Senator CORMANN: The government did a lot of work considering all of the necessary priorities to ensure that Australia was safe and secure and that we could have a strong and prosperous economy. Of course, our national security is an important part of underwriting our economic strength and prosperity into the future. These are all matters that were well ventilated and debated in the lead-up to the last election. We are implementing a commitment that we took to the last election.