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Defence confirms that Labor modernised Australia's amphibious capability



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DAVID FEENEY MP

SHADOW ASSISTANT MINISTER FOR DEFENCE SHADOW MINISTER FOR JUSTICE MEMBER FOR BATMAN

MEDIA RELEASE

DEFENCE CONFIRMS THAT LABOR MODERNISED AUSTRALIA’S AMPHIBIOUS CAPABILITY

During Senate Estimates yesterday, senior leaders of the Department of Defence confirmed that the Labor Government modernised Australia’s Amphibious Ship Capabilities.

Our Amphibious Ship Capability now includes HMAS Tobruk, HMAS Choules, and is augmented by ADV Ocean Shield. The delivery of two Landing Helicopter Dock Ships, HMAS Canberra and HMAS Adelaide, beginning in early 2014, will further strengthen our Amphibious Fleet, said David Feeney, Shadow Assistant Minister for Defence.

Deputy Chief of Navy, Rear Admiral Michael Van Balen, Vice Chief of the Defence Force, Air Marshal Mark Binskin, and Chief Executive Officer of the Defence Materiel Organisation, Mr Warren King confirmed that the acquisition of HMAS Choules was a value-for-money purchase of a ‘high quality’ ship.

They also praised the Spanish Armada Ship ESPS Cantabria, which has operated as part of the Royal Australian Navy (RAN). Rear Admiral Michael Van Balen told Senate Estimates that the Cantabria’s tour of service with the RAN as an ‘advantage in a number of areas’.

This independent advice rubbishes previous inaccurate statements by Defence Minister David Johnston.

In a speech delivered at the Lowy Institute in April 2013, Senator Johnston described the assistance of the Spanish Navy’s Replenishment ship Cantabria as ‘indicative of a portfolio in crisis’.

Senate Estimates revealed that Rear Admiral Van Balen has since spoken to Senator Johnston and the Minister is now happy with the Cantabria’s tour of service with the RAN and considers it a worthwhile exercise.

“Once again, the rhetoric of Senator Johnston in Opposition has proved to be wrong in fact and overblown in language. Within weeks of becoming Minister, Senator Johnston has been forced to acknowledge that Cantabria’s deployment with the RAN was a beneficial and innovative arrangement,” Mr Feeney said.

Chief of Navy, Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, has stated that the “Cantabria integrated very effectively into the Royal Australian Navy Fleet and completed everything asked of her with great flexibility and efficiency. The ship provided the RAN with underway replenishment capability conducting over 58 replenishments, and a chance for over 234 Navy personnel to familiarise themselves with some of the systems we are about to acquire in our new Canberra Class Landing Helicopter Dock ships and the Hobart Class Air Warfare Destroyers.”

“In this, as in so many other Defence matters, Senator Johnston has found that his pronouncements in Opposition have not survived first contact with the realities of Government,” Mr Feeney said.

FRIDAY, 22 NOVEMBER 2013

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