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Tuesday, 14 June 2011
Page: 5968

Mr CLARE (BlaxlandMinister for Defence Materiel) (17:08): I thank the member for his question. It was only recently that I was in the member for Makin's electorate as part of the community cabinet. He rightly points out that I had a good opportunity to have a discussion with Chris Burns. I met Chris on a previous occasion, when I went down to South Australia to talk about the defence issues specific to South Australia. South Australia is sometimes referred to as the 'defence state', and with good reason: there are a great number of defence projects in South Australia, including the sustainment of the Collins submarine fleet and the construction of a large number of blocks for the AWD project, as well as their eventual consolidation. We did talk about the General Dynamics through-life support contract for the maintenance of our LAVs and our Abrams tanks, and I am pleased to advise the member that that contract has now been entered into by Defence and GD. It was entered into late last month. That is an important contract not only for GD but for the people of South Australia. It will employ dozens of South Australians as well as people in the Northern Territory and in other parts of the country.

The other point that I made to Chris in my conversation with him at the community cabinet—it is one that I have made to the member for Fadden in our discussion here this afternoon—was about growth in the sustainment budget. Most Australian defence companies work in sustainment, or the maintenance of our defence equipment. The sustainment budget is growing, from $5.3 billion this financial year to $5.6 billion next financial year, and up to $6.1 billion in 2014-15. Seventy to 75 per cent of what the defence industry in Australia does is in this space, so that growth in the maintenance budget means good things for South Australia and good things for the defence industry.