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Monday, 26 November 2018
Page: 11380

Defence Procurement

Mr RAMSEY (GreyGovernment Whip) (15:01): My question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the minister update the House on how the government's strong economic management allows us to protect our service men and women through investments in the capabilities they need, and what different approaches might put this investment at risk?

Mr PYNE (SturtMinister for Defence and Leader of the House) (15:01): I thank the member for Grey for his question. In the last few weeks we've made some very significant announcements and begun some very important projects in the defence industry and the defence sector. For example, a couple of weeks ago, we began construction of the Arafura class offshore patrol vessels at Osborne—12 offshore patrol vessels, the first two to be built at Osborne in Adelaide and the next 10 to be built in Henderson in Western Australia. It's a $3.5 billion to $4 billion project. The Prime Minister cut steel at Henderson about six weeks ago and about a fortnight ago we began construction of the first of the offshore patrol vessels at Osborne in South Australia.

A couple of Fridays ago, I travelled out to Edinburgh and announced that we would acquire 12 to 16 reaper unmanned, remotely piloted aircraft UAVs, weaponised to give us the capability to take out targets on the ground from seven kilometres in the air, protecting our service men and women from danger, at a cost of $1 billion to $2 million. In the last month, we opened the bricks and mortar that represents the Naval Shipbuilding College at Osborne, a spoke-and-hub college that will use all the resources available to us around Australia to create the skilled workforce that we need, the thousands and thousands of workers that are needed—from tradesmen right through to engineers—because of this government's investments in the shipbuilding and submarine-building projects of the future. So we are investing in our capability with the largest build-up of our military in our peacetime history.

Why are we able to do that? Why are we able to invest $200 billion in our military capability build-up across our nation? It's because of our management of the budget and the economy. If you don't have a growing economy bringing in the revenue, if you don't manage your budget in the way that we have been doing in the last five years where we have slowed the rate of growth of spending that existed under the Labor Party, you are not be able to invest in major military capability build-up. We know what happened the last time that Labor got into office in 2007. We know what happened last time. The first casualty of their spending cuts to fund their profligate programs was defence. They saw defence as a honey pot where they could go and cut constantly, even to the point that we had our lowest spending on our defence since 1938—the lowest level since the last year of appeasement. It was the lowest level under Labor. The highest level under the— (Time expired)