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Smith reduces Future Frigate purchase from eight to six



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Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Stuart Rober

Smith reduces Future Frigate purchase from eight to six

18/01/13

In the latest indication the Gillard Government is working to further cut the Defence budget and wind back our military capabilities, Defence Minister Smith has stated we will only be acquiring six Future Frigates, not the eight as stated in the 2009 Defence White Paper.

Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Stuart Robert, said Mr Smith’s announcement during an interview with UK Secretary of State for Defence Philip Hammond in Perth yesterday was yet more proof the Labor Government would continue to plunder the Defence budget.

‘The 2009 Defence White Paper unequivocally states that Australia will acquire a fleet of eight Future Frigates to replace the current fleet of Anzac vessels,’ Mr Robert said.

‘Even the most recent version of the Defence Capability Plan, Defence’s key acquisition guide, states that we will acquire eight Future Frigates.’

‘Minister Smith has let the cat out of the bag by revealing the Government will cut the planned acquisition of Future Frigates from eight to just six.’

During the press conference the UK Secretary of State for Defence, Philip Hammond, confirmed the UK would be acquiring about 13 Future Frigate-type vessels, and when asked, Mr Smith said Australia would acquire just six.

‘I don’t think there is any suggestion Mr Smith got the number wrong. There has been no attempt made by him or his office to correct what would otherwise amount to quite a serious blunder,’ Mr Robert said.

‘The reality is the Labor Government has just cut the Future Frigate program by 25 per cent and it has done it not because of any strategic objective or rationale, it has done it in order to fuel its spending binge.’

‘Even though the Defence budget has been reduced to its lowest level as a percentage of GDP since 1938, some 1.56 per cent, it is clear the pain will not end for Defence and more money will be ripped out.’

‘The Labor Government is setting the ADF up to fail. With the focus of the world increasingly on the Indo-Pacific region and at a time when regional military spending is on the rise, the Labor Government has repeatedly cut Australia’s Defence budget.’

‘The most worrying aspect of this announcement is that there is no sign the Gillard Government is about to stop treating the Defence budget as its own personal ATM.’