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Wednesday, 11 February 2015
Page: 523

Defence Procurement


Mr SHORTEN (MaribyrnongLeader of the Opposition) (14:09): Did the Prime Minister promise Senator Edwards on the weekend that there would be 'a full and open tender' to build Australia's future submarines? And, if the Prime Minister did not promise Senator Edwards 'a full and open tender', what precisely did the Prime Minister promise to obtain his vote?


Mr ABBOTT (WarringahPrime Minister) (14:09): I said that there would be a competitive evaluation process. That is precisely the process that members opposite put in place for major defence procurement exercises themselves—a competitive evaluation process. It really does come a bit rich for this opposition to ask questions about the submarine procurement process when they procrastinated for fully six years. For six years they sat on their hands while the defence of Australia suffered; that is what they did. We all know that they cut billions and billions of dollars out of defence procurement.

Mr Dreyfus: Not true.

The SPEAKER: The member for Isaacs will desist!

Mr ABBOTT: We all know that on their watch not a single naval shipbuilding order was placed—not one, not one was placed under the members opposite. They sent the double hulling of HMAS Success to Singapore. They sent the icebreaker tender overseas. They bought a new amphibious ship from the Royal Navy. These are people who dumped on defence jobs throughout the six years that they were in power. Defence industry employment dropped by 10 per cent when the members opposite were in power.

What do they want now? They want an open tender. They do not understand the difference between an open tender and a competitive evaluation process. Do you know about an open tender? Anyone can compete. What the Leader of the Opposition wants is for anyone to be able to compete to provide Australia's next generation of submarines. He might want the Russians to compete—the Putin class subs. That is what we will get from the Leader of the Opposition. First of all, he attacks the Japanese in some bout of antediluvian xenophobia and says that we cannot possibly have Japanese involvement in the submarine contract because of what happened in Sydney Harbour. Now he says you have got to have an open tender. We could have Kim Jong-il class submarines or Vladimir Putin submarines. You cannot trust the members opposite with the defence of this country, but you can trust this government.