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Wednesday, 31 August 2016
Page: 138

Defence Industry

Mr HASTIE (Canning) (14:40): My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry.

Opposition members interjecting

The SPEAKER: Members on my left will cease interjecting. The member for Canning will begin his question again. The clock will start again. The member for Canning has the call.

Mr HASTIE: Thank you, Mr Speaker. My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry. Will the minister update the House on the government's efforts to boost the defence industry, especially in the great state of Western Australia? How will the government's investment in the defence industry build Australia's defence capability and create jobs?

Mr Fitzgibbon interjecting

The SPEAKER: The member for Hunter will cease interjecting.

Mr PYNE (SturtLeader of the House and Minister for Defence Industry) (14:41): I am absolutely delighted to get a question from the member for Canning, who managed to increase his primary vote by three per cent at the most recent election. I congratulate him on his re-election. He knows how to get the votes, and good luck to him.

This is a very important question. Western Australia is at the centre of our defence industry now and into the future. Through the defence white paper, the Integrated Investment Program, the Defence Industry Policy Statement, this government is putting $195 billion of new investment into our Defence Force capability over the next 10 years. That is a dramatic and gigantic investment in defence, which follows of course the Labor Party's period in office when they reduced our defence spending to the lowest level of GDP since 1938. So this government is repairing the damage that Labor did to our defence forces and our defence industry—it is a fact.

My first visit as the defence industry minister was to Western Australia. I went to Henderson with Senator Linda Reynolds, who put together a terrific program, and looked at the amazing, fantastic industry they have at Henderson, not far from the member's electorate. I visited many of the businesses there—like the ASC, Austal, Civmec and many others—who are investing themselves and with the government's support in the defence industry. The Turnbull government wants the defence industry to be a pillar of our economy into the future and this is a once-in-a-generation opportunity to take this increase in spending, this very significant investment, and turn it into a burgeoning domestic defence industry that provides jobs and growth in our economy. These are not old-fashioned jobs; these are advanced manufacturing, high-tech jobs. They are very valuable jobs. When this money is invested now and into the future it will give us a chance for a real export industry in defence industry. A lot of jobs are created when you create a defence industry. It is manufacturing. Manufacturing is still one of our largest employers in the Australian economy.

I am very delighted that the government is showing that it takes defence industry seriously by appointing the first dedicated defence industry minister, and I am very glad that I have the opportunity under Malcolm Turnbull, under the Prime Minister, to work hard to invest that money across Australia, to grow, to travel overseas and to expand the exports of the defence industry. I am going to Washington soon to promote the joint strike fighter program, to promote Australia as a maintenance and sustainment hub for the joint strike fighter. I will soon go to other countries around the world to promote our Australian defence industry, which Labor thinks is a huge joke because of course when they were in government they made not one decision in six years to promote our defence industry. They built not one vessel. They did nothing. (Time expired)