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Need to review Defence budget.



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Media Release

Hon Stephen Martin

Shadow Minister for Defence

Federal Member for Cunningham

 

14 September 1999

 

NEED TO REVIEW DEFENCE BUDGET

 

The Shadow Minister for Defence, Stephen Martin, today called for a review of the Defence budget.

 

Mr Martin sa id that a review of the budget would be timely in view of the situation in East Timor, Australia’s changing strategic environment, and the difficulties that Defence will face over the next decade with block obsolescence of defence equipment.

 

“Clearly the savings from the Defence Reform Program, which are now widely believed to have been subsumed by increases in personnel costs, will not be enough to fund any growth in Defence capabilities or to even maintain those capabilities at the current level,” Mr Martin said.

 

“It is now time to review the Defence budget and, equally importantly, to ensure that the money spent on Defence is spent wisely.

 

“For example, Defence is currently planning to spend up to $250 million dollars upgrading the ageing Fremantle class patrol boats to extend their life of type by eight years prior to replacing them with a similar sort of boat.

 

“I am not fully convinced that that is the right decision. The Government’s solution is simply a band aid measure as it seeks to avoid its first encounter with the difficulties of block obsolescence.

 

“It is time that Australia had an informed public debate on Defence matters, including the budget, and I believe that the terrible situation in East Timor has focused the Australian public on the issue of what sort of Defence Force they want and what they want it to be able to do.

 

“The current Strategic Review and White Paper should lead to serious consideration about an appropriate Defence budget to meet our national security needs.

 

“It is important as Australia’s Defence faces the block obsolescence problem that we accurately assess our capital requirements against a thorough and proper strategic review of our region, and with careful consideration of budgetary restrictions,” Mr Martin said.

 

 

More Information:

Amanda Forman on (02) 6277 4363 or 0413 602 230.

 

 

md 1999-09-16  09:19