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Wednesday, 17 June 2009
Page: 6446

Mr NEUMANN (4:41 PM) —Along with the member for Herbert, I would have one of the largest communities of Australian Defence personnel and veterans in Blair in Queensland. A number of my constituents have approached me to discuss the white paper, which was released on 2 May 2009. I commend the government for the white paper. I had a look at it and thought it was a very good proposal with respect to both Force 2030 and challenges in the future. A number of my constituents have talked to me about a number of issues. I know that both this side of the House and the coalition have supported, historically, our American alliance. In fact, since Curtin in 1941 we have turned our eyes to the Americans, particularly during the darkest days of the war when Japan was threatening our national security and sovereignty. A number of my constituents have raised the future role of Australia with the United States that arose out of the white paper. I would like you to comment on where you see the government going with our relationship with the US.

Secondly, I raise the challenges in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly concerning our involvement in Timor and in the Solomon Islands with the RAMSI project. It is a great arc of instability. Australia has taken on a more regional focus, particularly in the Solomon Islands and Papua New Guinea—which has also had a degree of political instability over a number of years. Timor has cost us a lot of money, and we are in there for the long haul and are committed to ensuring it remains a viable sovereign state. But Timor is, of course, a challenge to us. A number of my constituents have raised the challenges and where we see ourselves going in the Asia-Pacific region, particularly that arc of instability that a number of military and political commentators have talked about.

The third issue is the future funding and the model we have got. I know the Prime Minister has talked about that model and our future funding. We are talking about 2030, which is a long time away. We are talking about long-term planning in a way that governments in the past have not talked about it. My constituents are very keen. There has been a lot of commentary in my local newspapers, especially in the Queensland Times, on the future of RAAF Base Amberley in the context of the white paper. Perhaps the fourth question is the future of RAAF Base Amberley in the context of the white paper.