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ABC News Breakfast -

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(generated from captions) megs. For now it appears it's

not to be. Australia is about

to embark on its biggest

defence purchase, a pro jek to

replace the Collins class

submarines, according to elite

defence - a leaked defence

White Paper, $25 billion will

be spent to double the size of

the fleet. The defence

department is facing criticism

at the moment after some

Australian SAS soldiers decided

to speak out over concerns

about a pay error. Senator

David Johnson is the Opposition's

Opposition's defence spokesman.

He joins us from Canberra.

First of all, the serious

investment that if the leak is correct, we understand is now

going to be ploughed into our

submarine fleet, a potential

doubling of that fleet, in your

view is that where the resources needs to go? Under

the sea, rather than in the

the sea, rather than in the air?. ... Are absolutely meaningless without us

understanding how many

submarines and what the extent

of the capability will be. This

leaking of White Paper

information is quite laughable.

I think that $35 billion in 20,

$$25 terms is not close to the

mark if you want anything a

round 10 submarines. You see

this leak as softening up for potentially more money being

spent or less? I'm at a loss. I

think the leaking business that

Prime Minister's office is comes out of the Minister's and

counterproductive. Everyone

does it, senator. You know

that, even your lot when it was

this charge. Almost

unprofessional because we don't

have the facts. The White Paper

will speak for itself.

Hopefully that will get it

right. We'll then have

something to work with. These numbers are quite

meaningless. We are dealing

with a leak. It could be an

early kite flying exercise

testing the water. Just trying

to get a philosophical view

from you here, a sense as

opposition speaks person who

you believe about it. Is

Australia best defended from

the sea or the air? We have two

force element groups that are

probably close to the best in

the world. The first is our

submarine fleet. The second are

our special forces. Take it

from there, we then move to our

fabulous F/A-18 hornet and

F-111s, so it goes on. The two

best fegs we have are clearly submarine

submarine and... That wouldn't

abpoor investment? The

Opposition would be very

willing to support a new

generation of world class

conventionally powered submar

eeps, I would expect. Trouble

is the Government is not going

to have that kind of money to

buy any of these, is it? It's

telling us these numbers. I

think you're asking the right

question. But what is the point

of all this? We just have the

numbers. It's meaningless. Tell

us your view over the fracas

that's blown up over the SAS.

Tell us about warnings given to

SAS about speaking out about

some being overpaid and they're

being docked that pay now. Was

there a bet wear to handle

this? Oh look, this is

absolutely beyob the pale. What

we've come to is now we are

starting to attack the soldiers

themselves, because the chain

of command and the Minister

have been put in such a hideously embarrassing

position, this problem has been

around since May of last year,

I raised it in October, what

has happened - this is not an

overpayment. This is simply a

retrospective moving of the

goal posts where a whole lot of

qualifications have been

rendered ill legitimate then

debts made up to the 9th August

2007 and soldiers and their

families have been told pay up

oin shut up. That is not on.

Any resolution in Afghanistan,

if we are to go even close to

resolving that swaying, we are

utterly - that situation, we

are utterly dependent on these

men in the SAS. Are you

qualifications were disputing the fact these

retrospectively removed in the

first place? Are you saying

they should've stayed in place

- Absolutely. The solution is

very simple. All qualifications

and pay and terms and

conditions at the a - as at 9

August 2007 should stay in

place, and then from the 1

March this year, they should

have 36 months to complete

whatever courses that have now

been introduceded. Bear in mind

many of these soldiers could

never do these courses, they're

new courses, should stay in

place for 36 months from 1

March and we just get on with

the job and leevt them alone.

I'm much more concern ed now

with retribution. One soldier

in his pay packet got $0. I

have a copy of

have a copy of that Document 0.

This is a man who's come back

from Afghanistan fighting for

his country and his pay is

zero. He's not allowed to speak

out. This didn't happen in

Russia, I don't think it

happened in pre-war Germany.