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Thursday, 1 November 2012
Page: 8802

Defence Equipment


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:40): Mr President, my question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence, Senator Bob Carr. I refer the minister to the Gillard government's budget decision to cancel the purchase of Samsung Techwin's LAND 17 self-propelled howitzer from South Korea in order to save $225 million. How does the government reconcile this dishonourable cancellation with the Australia in the Asian Century country profile, which states:

In the future, the Australian and South Korean armed forces will have built considerable mutual understanding and interoperability, making us more effective in joint operations and better equipped to respond to emergencies and regional disasters. South Korea is likely to continue to develop as a significant regional supplier of military equipment and will look to Australia's high-technology armed forces as potential buyers.


Senator BOB CARR (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:41): I will seek advice from my colleague and report back to the Senate.


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:42): Extraordinarily, the minister has no knowledge of this very important issue. Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Can the minister explain why the government recently rejected a second proposal from Samsung Techwin, despite them providing some $200 million in savings, which the government was looking for, and a flexible payment plan?


Senator BOB CARR (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:42): Mr President, I refer to my previous answer.


Senator NASH (New South WalesDeputy Leader of The Nationals in the Senate) (14:42): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. While I am sure the South Koreans will be somewhat perturbed that the minister has no knowledge of this, does the minister maintain that the government's treatment of Samsung Techwin will have no diplomatic, trade or commercial fallout for Australia, particularly given the Korean government's closeness to its defence industry?


Senator BOB CARR (New South WalesMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:43): Mr President, I am delighted to report to the Senate that I had a long and cordial conversation with Foreign Minister Kim of South Korea on Friday. We canvassed many measures, including our two successes in election to the Security Council. We canvassed Australia's support for the green nation, the clean green initiatives that are sponsored—very proudly—by the government of South Korea. We spoke about several other matters. Foreign Minister Kim did not raise this matter with me.