Note: Where available, the PDF/Word icon below is provided to view the complete and fully formatted document
 Download Current HansardDownload Current Hansard    View Or Save XMLView/Save XML

Previous Fragment    Next Fragment
Monday, 29 February 2016
Page: 1340


Senator CORMANN (Western AustraliaMinister for Finance, Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate and Special Minister of State) (17:25): On behalf of the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne, I table the ministerial statement on the Defence white paper and seek leave to have the statement incorporated in Hansard.

Leave granted.

The statement read as follows—

I am pleased to advise the Senate and the Australian people on this government's commitment to deliver a safe, secure and prosperous Australia.

Last Thursday 25 February Prime Minister the Hon. Malcolm Turnbull MP and I launched the 2016 Defence White Paper at the Australian Defence Force Academy.

The 2016 Defence White Paper sets a historic benchmark and will deliver the most capable Australian Defence Force our nation has had—potent, agile and ready to respond when our interests are threatened or our help is needed.

The government's strategies and plans set out in this White Paper—backed by our funding commitment to increase Defence spending to two per cent of GDP—will deliver the transformational change to Defence that is necessary to enable it to meet its mission, both now and in the future.

Through this Defence White Paper, the government will deliver the force we need to secure our nation into the future.

Government ' s Defence policy settings

The 2016 Defence White Paper clearly explains both the opportunities for greater prosperity and development, and the complexities that come with Australia's security environment.

These include:

o The transformation of the Indo-Pacific region and the relationship between United States and China;

o challenges to global order;

o the dangers of state fragility;

o the pace of military modernisation;

o and threats in cyber space.

It is also a fact of the highly dynamic and interconnected world in which we live in today that Australians will continue to be threatened by terrorism at home and abroad and these threats will continue to evolve and persist into the future.

Our Defence capabilities must allow us to play a significant role in ensuring stability and security in our region, the Indo-Pacific. But they should enable us to make contributions to defend our interests wherever they are engaged - as we are today in Iraq, Afghanistan and Syria.

Capability

Over the next two decades, the ADF will undergo significant change to manage strategic challenges confronting our nation and to seize the available opportunities.

The cumulative effects of prolonged under-investment in Defence over decades have been remediated in this White Paper.

This White Paper restores the proper alignment of Defence strategy, capability and resources, underpinned by the most comprehensive Force Structure Review and external cost assurance process of any Defence White Paper.

Our plans for naval modernisation are at the heart of our significant investment in Defence capabilities. This government is implementing an unprecedented continuous build of surface warships which will secure thousands of Australian jobs, and a rolling acquisition program to replace the submarine fleet.

There will be greater focus on integrating defence capabilities to ensure that the ADF can apply more force, more rapidly and more effectively. And we will provide our forces with comprehensive situational awareness through advanced intelligence and surveillance capabilities.

The 2016 Defence White Paper will substantially strengthen our nation's maritime border security capability through an additional seven P-8A Poseidon Maritime Patrol aircraft, to bring the total fleet to 15, and seven high altitude MQ-4C Triton unmanned surveillance aircraft and new offshore patrol vessels and maritime unmanned aerial vehicles.

And this White Paper will provide new long-range strike weapons for our air combat fleet. Together with our international partners, we must be able to deter and defeat potential threats wherever Australia's interests are engaged around the globe.

The government will also make significant new investments in our land forces, including new weapons, protective equipment and digital communications systems for our soldiers and armoured combat vehicles. We will similarly enhance our special forces capabilities, including through new light helicopters to support our special operations.

We will ensure that we have land forces that have the mobility, firepower, protection and situational awareness to deploy quickly to where they are needed, achieve their missions and return home safely.

The cyber threat to Australia is growing. Cyber attacks are a real, present and growing threat to the ADF's warfighting ability as well as to Australia's economy and critical infrastructure. The government will strengthen the Defence cyber workforce and systems to deter and defend against the threat of cyber attack.

To ensure Defence can perform at the highest level of effectiveness, the government will also address the prolonged underinvestment in the vital enabling capabilities that bind military capabilities together.

Across Australia more than $26 billion will be invested in defence airfields, wharves, bases, training areas and other facilities over the next decade, much of which will be spent in regional and remote areas. Another $19 billion has been allocated to fund the maintenance of Defence facilities, including refurbishment and garrison support. These upgrades will have significant spill over effects into their local economies. They will create jobs and provide opportunities for local industries, such as building and construction, ICT and logistics.

International Engagement

Australia's strong network of regional and global defence relationships will be even more important to our security in the future.

The White Paper recognises that we can better protect our interests by working with our international partners.

Indeed, this White Paper underscores an increased Defence investment in international engagement, particularly in our region, over the next 20 years to 2035.

Defence will take a more active role working in collaboration with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and other agencies, in shaping regional affairs and to respond to developments which threaten Australia's interests.

We will build cooperation with key partners and seek to improve the international coordination of responses to shared challenges such as humanitarian disasters.

We will work with our ally the United States and our partners in support of our shared security interests in the Indo-Pacific, and wherever Australia's interests are engaged.

The United States will continue to be the pre-eminent military power in the Indo-Pacific region in the coming decades. Australia's alliance with the United States is fundamental to Australia's security and our Defence planning. We will continue to build on the strong foundation of our long-standing alliance relationship to grow and adapt to changing security needs.

Across the Indo-Pacific we will increase practical Defence engagement that builds security capacity and strengthens regional cooperation to respond to shared security challenges.

We will seek to mature and deepen our practical engagement with partners across the Indo-Pacific, particularly with Indonesia, Japan, South Korea, New Zealand, India and China.

This White Paper sends a clear message to the international community that we will be a very active contributor to regional and global security over the years to come, across a range of roles from security and stabilisation to humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. A nation that is ready and able to contribute whenever our help is needed.

Industry

The Turnbull government recognises that a strong, internationally competitive Australian industry is a vital partner in delivering the plans in this White Paper.

The government is committed to taking the partnership between Defence and industry to new levels of cooperation and investing in innovative cutting-edge Australian science and technology to provide capability advantages for the ADF.

Indeed, our investments in Australian industry and technologies will generate benefits well beyond the Australian Defence industrial base. They will spur greater economic activity more broadly, bringing benefits to local businesses and communities across Australia.

This is why, for the first time, all of the government's major Defence investments are available publicly in a single, comprehensive Defence Integrated Investment Program that we have released with the White Paper.

This details our planned investment in new weapons, advanced platforms, systems, and the enabling bases, training and testing facilities, workforce, and information and communications technology.

Through the Defence Industry Policy Statement, the Turnbull government will transform the framework for effective engagement between Defence and the private sector, by reducing red tape, streamlining industry programs, and providing the clarity industry needs to make critical investment decisions.

Capability acquisition and sustainment will now be conducted on a single, end-to-end basis, where integration and interoperability will be fully and properly considered.

These reforms will be critical to delivering on our plans in the 2016 Defence White Paper.

People

Our people are the foundation of Defence's capability.

To meet the demands of the higher technology future force set out in the 2016 Defence White Paper, the government will undertake the largest single rebalance of the Defence workforce in a generation.

The permanent ADF workforce will to around 62,400 over the next decade to return the permanent force to its largest size since 1993.

The government is committed to providing ADF members with leading-edge health care, including mental health care. We will continue to invest in better health care systems, including more medical personnel, and we will improve the links between Defence and the Department of Veterans' Affairs to better support current and former members.

Defence's Australian Public Service workforce will also be rebalanced with 1200 new position, including 800 roles in intelligence, space and cyber security.

These new positions will be offset by reforms elsewhere in the APS workforce as part of the implementation of the First Principles Review of Defence.

Reform

The Turnbull government recognises that Defence needs to develop a better balance between operational excellence and organisational effectiveness.

The First Principles Review of Defence is the most wide ranging reform of Defence in a generation.

At the heart of the recommendations of the First Principles Review is a call for fundamental cultural change, to bring about a more unified and integrated organisation that is led by a stronger, more strategic centre.

Further efforts to implement cultural reform, building on the progress made to date, will support Defence to become more inclusive, enhancing Defence capability.

These reforms will ensure Defence is fit for purpose and able to implement the White Paper plans, and that public money invested in Defence will be well spent.

I encourage anyone who would like to read through the White Paper and appreciate this detail to visit the Defence website at www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper/ .

Conclusion

Through the 2016 Defence White Paper, the Turnbull government has delivered a funded and cost-assured plan to meet the Government's foremost responsibility for the safety and security of all Australians.

This White Paper takes a significant step forward in the advancement of Australia's security and prosperity. The plans set out in the 2016 Defence White Paper ensure that we can approach future opportunities and challenges with confidence and strength.