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Thursday, 16 February 2017
Page: 1416

Mr MARLES (Corio) (11:53): Next week is the Avalon air show. It is one of Australia's largest displays of scientific engineering and technical prowess when it comes to Australia's air power and, indeed, air power more generally. This event injects something like $125 million into the Victorian economy and, indeed, $25 million into the local economy in Geelong. Over the six days of the event, it is expected that 180,000 people will attend Avalon, and that makes it the single biggest event which is held in the Geelong reason. It was first held in 1992 and from 1995 has been held on a biennial basis at Avalon airport, which is in my constituency of Corio. This year, the Australian International Airshow will be held from 28 February to 5 March. The final three days of the air show are open to the public, from 3 to 5 March, and the preceding days are very much the trade component of that show.

This year the stars of the show, making their Australian debut, will be the first two of Australia's ordered fleet of Joint Strike Fighters—A1 and A2. It is very exciting that they are going to make their Australian debut in Avalon. These planes have been flown by Australian personnel in the US, but they are coming out for the show. They are the most advanced military aircraft in the world, capable of supersonic flight while retaining stealth. They have extraordinary acceleration, agility and manoeuvrability, and we are all very excited about seeing that on display at Avalon. They are at the cutting edge and very forefront of military aviation and are going to be a critical capability, which the Royal Australian Air Force will have for decades to come. As I say, to see this on display for the first time at Avalon will really be a treat. Those two planes are expected to be in service next year, and we have our first squadron for the RAAF due in 2021.

The other star of the show is going to be the Growler electronic attack aircraft. Again, these are one of the most capable and technologically advanced aircraft in the world. The Avalon air show will be the first time this plane has made an appearance in Australia. The RAAF will eventually have 12 Growlers in service, and they will bring a key and unique capability to our Air Force. They are state-of-the-art technology, with the capability to jam enemy radar and communications systems, disrupt electronic systems of enemy aircraft and reduce the combat effectiveness of rival forces. We are very much looking forward to seeing the Growler on display as well.

The theme of this year's air show will be: air power in action. I have no doubt that it will be really spectacular. Along with the Growler and the JSF, the RAAF will be bringing 50 aircraft, including Super Hornets, classic Hornets, the Hawks and the giant C-17s, a heavy lift aircraft. The US Air Force will also be bringing 14 aircraft, including the F-22 Raptors—that, in turn, is a treat. It will not be the first time they have been at Avalon, but they are very much at the forefront of the US Air Force's capabilities—the C-16C Vipers and the B-1 Lancer high-altitude bomber, which is always a favourite for the stalwarts of the show. There will also be seven separate foreign aircraft taking part, including navel and army helicopter assets.

The show also puts on display the versatility and capability of Avalon Airport, which all of us in the Greater Geelong region know is a critical part of our future. The civic leadership of Geelong is very supportive of Avalon Airport and sees it as a key component of providing employment in our region, and we are all strong advocates for it.

This air show and the corresponding land forces conference, the maritime conference and the civil-military conference, which are fantastic conferences that have been developed by the same entity, ably led by Ian Honnery, tell a fantastic story and put Australia's defence industry on display. The point is that all of these began with the air show, and it has a very unique Geelong component to it. This is a Geelong story as well. The air shows are very much a part of the Geelong calendar nowadays, and we absolutely wish everyone involved the very best for the coming week.