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Monday, 2 May 2016
Page: 3986

Defence Procurement


Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (14:41): My question is to the Minister for Foreign Affairs. Will the minister advise the House how the government's historic decision to construct the next generation of Australian submarines in South Australia will strengthen Australia's national security and support a sustainable local shipbuilding industry?


Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinMinister for Foreign Affairs) (14:41): I thank the member for Mayo for his question and note his commitment to a local defence industry in South Australia. The coalition government decision to build 12 next-generation submarines in South Australia gives us a vital element in Australia's naval capability well into the middle of this century, helping to secure Australia's vast maritime domain, which is one of the largest in the world. In the decades to come, Australia will face an increasingly challenging maritime environment. By 2035 it is estimated that half the world's submarines will be operating in the Indian Ocean and Asia-Pacific region. The 12 submarines to be built with Australian jobs, with Australian steel and with Australian expertise, will be among the most sophisticated naval vessels in the world and will enable Australia to play an even greater role in safeguarding the peace and the security of our region.

The Future Submarine program will invest around $50 billion in our local shipbuilding industry, generating an additional 2,800 jobs. The investment is in addition to the government's decision to implement a program of continuous surface ship construction in Australian shipyards—major warships, offshore patrol vessels, Pacific patrol boats—in South Australia and Western Australia, with support and maintenance across Australia. Together, these programs represent around $90 billion of investment in our defence capability and in our local shipbuilding industry, creating over 3,600 direct jobs, with significant flow-on effects through our supply chains.

Compare and contrast these three facts. We have now commissioned up to 54 naval vessels. I remind the House that Labor failed to commission one—

The SPEAKER: Members on my right will put their props down. The attendants will collect them.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: Not one ship in any Australian shipyard during their entire six chaotic years in government. Two: the coalition is creating thousands and thousands of jobs for Australia's defence industry. Labor's inaction—

Mr Williams interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hindmarsh is warned!

Mr Williams interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hindmarsh will leave under 94(a).

The member for Hindmarsh then left the chamber.

Ms JULIE BISHOP: The second fact is that we are creating an environment where thousands and thousands of defence industry jobs will be maintained. During Labor's years of incompetence and inaction, there was a 10 per cent workforce loss in the defence industry. Ten per cent of the workforce lost their jobs. The third point is that Labor slashed defence spending to the lowest percentage of GDP since 1938, and the coalition is boosting—

Mr Perrett interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Moreton is warned!

Ms JULIE BISHOP: defence spending by almost $30 billion over the next 10 years. The coalition can be trusted to support the defence industry in Australia, and defence industry jobs. (Time expired)