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Wednesday, 23 October 2002
Page: 5719

Senator CHRIS EVANS (2:26 PM) — My question is addressed to Senator Hill, the Minister for Defence. Does the minister support the Prime Minister's view that increased defence spending will be required in response to the Bali bombing? What sort of increase will be required and what will this increased expenditure be used on?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —If we look at the experience of September 11, what did the government do after that? It increased domestic security in relation to key installations—that cost more money. It increased security in airports and on aircraft, and it significantly increased intelligence, particularly within our own region. It established a second counter-terrorism capability in the form of a second TAG on the east coast of Australia. It established a permanent regiment to deal with chemical, biological and radiological attacks. These are the sorts of responses that the government took after the September 11 experience to better protect Australia and Australian interests from terrorists.

Now, having experienced the horrible bombing in Bali, the government is obviously back at the table again, determining whether further actions should be taken. Obviously, any further actions in terms of protection will cost more money. At this stage, whilst the detail is being considered by the government—and there is no secret about that, because the Prime Minister said publicly that we were doing that—it would be inappropriate for me to speculate. But, looking at our responses on the last occasion, I think it gives some sort of indication of the types of options that are open to the government.

Senator CHRIS EVANS —Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I thank the minister for his answer. In terms of the further actions that the minister says the government is considering, are those largely in the defence portfolio or are they spread across portfolios? In terms of funding any increased expenditure as a result of these measures, is it anticipated that it would require a new defence tax, or would these costs be met by just increasing general taxation revenue?

Senator HILL (Minister for Defence) —The responses are, obviously, across portfolios. In many ways, the most effective response in this area is not a defence response. Defence has a contribution it must make, but it requires a range of other skills and capabilities to best protect Australia's interests. In relation to how the money will be raised for any additional cost involved in these measures, that will be determined by the government.