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Monday, 2 March 2015
Page: 1578

Mr CONROY (Charlton) (11:09): I am proud to rise to speak in the debate on this motion on the Australian Defence Force because I am absolutely sick on these vicious and uncalled for attacks on the patriotism of the Australian Labor Party. The previous speaker and the member for Lindsay suggested that we were wilfully putting ADF personnel at risk in the field. That is incredibly offensive.

The previous speaker is absolutely right in saying that national security is the first role of government. Let us look at the history of the other side. They are the party whose god is Robert Menzies, a man known as 'Pig Iron Bob', a man who prosecuted waterside workers for refusing to load scrap iron going to fascist Japan because they knew it would come back at us. The Liberal Party support Pig Iron Bob Menzies. They are the party who brought us into Vietnam on a lie. They are the party who brought us into the second Iraq war on a lie. They are the party who tried to politicise the ADF through the children overboard affair in order to win the 2001 election. The Liberal Party cloak themselves in patriotism, but when you look at their actions you see that they will use the ADF and national security for petty political purposes. I say, 'No more.'

Let us look at the facts of the matter. Let us look at LAND 17, the acquisition of new artillery pieces. The truth is that the Army wanted the German self-propelled howitzer. They were not particularly interested in the Korean piece. The Liberal government, when they were in power last, did not supply enough funds to support the purchase of the German howitzer, so the project was cancelled. Let us look at their broader acquisition history. Of the top 30 acquisition projects currently being pursued by Defence, 87 per cent of the total schedule slippage has occurred in projects approved by Liberal governments. That constitutes 81 years of schedule slippage. Let me repeat that: 87 per cent of the scheduled slippage of the top 30 projects currently being managed by Defence, culminating in 81 years of deferred capability, occurred because of decisions made by Liberal governments. These are platforms that the ADF need that are not in service now because of the incompetence of those opposite. Let us look at the list of projects of concern—these are projects that are put on a high-profile list because they are in trouble. Of the 10 projects featured on that list, all were approved by coalition governments. They cannot acquire projects, 81 years of schedule slippage; they repeatedly bring us into wars on lies; their God, their ultimate politician, stopped waterside workers from refusing to export scrap iron to fascist Japan. Those on the other side should be ashamed of themselves for bringing this motion to parliament.

Let us look at the current debate on submarines. The government have been very concerned to run down the capability of the Collins class submarine, a submarine that is seen around the world as one of the best conventional powered submarines in the world, a submarine that can be the platform for our next generation of submarines. This is all part of the broken promise that they took to the last election to build a new generation of submarines in Adelaide. This is a broken promise that will see the Prime Minister end the jobs of 4,000 to 5,000 shipbuilding and submarine workers in this country, including 900 in my region at Forgacs at Tomago.

The truth is that we had a plan to bridge the shipbuilding valley of death. We had a plan that we were in the process of implementing. They have no plan except to end the jobs of 5,000 shipbuilding workers and to get submarines made in Japan, which will not be fit for our purposes, in order to secure some sort of stronger relationship between Prime Minister Abbott and Prime Minister Abe. The truth is that you cannot trust the Liberal Party to manage defence acquisition—81 years of schedule slippage under those opposite. You cannot trust them to put the national security of this nation first if you look at their actions in Vietnam, their actions before World War II, their actions before the second Iraq war and their actions on children overboard. Those on the other side are content to cloak themselves in patriotism, but when the real test comes to put petty politics aside and act in the national interest they are found wanting. They are found wanting consistently. They will be condemned by history for their actions. I proudly oppose this motion.

Debate adjourned.