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Tuesday, 13 March 2012
Page: 2630

Minister for Defence

Ms JULIE BISHOP (CurtinDeputy Leader of the Opposition) (15:06): My question is to the Minister for Defence. Does the minister regret actively and publicly lobbying to leave the Defence portfolio, given the impact his active interest in moving on must have had on his relationship with the defence forces?

Mr STEPHEN SMITH (PerthMinister for Defence and Deputy Leader of the House) (15:07): Mr Speaker, I am very happy to answer the Deputy Leader of the Opposition's question. I have made the point over very many years, both as a frontbencher in opposition and as a minister in government, that the question of allocation of portfolios is entirely a matter for the Prime Minister of the day. When the Prime Minister indicated to me after the 2010 election that she wanted the former Prime Minister, Mr Rudd, to be the Minister for Foreign Affairs, I asked her if I could serve in Defence and I was greatly honoured when she said I could.

I have made the point repeatedly that I am very happy doing this job. It is a very important job in our national security space. In the most recent reshuffle, I said consistently from day one until the Prime Minister made her announcement that these were entirely matters for her. Indeed, I said to a number of people in the course of that week that I had been around long enough to work by the old adage that you never quite know what a reshuffle is going to look like until you see the Prime Minister's press release.

I am very happy doing the important job in the national security space that I do. I am very happy making our contribution and our commitment not just to our forces in the field in Afghanistan but to our national security interests, whether that be peacekeeping in Timor-Leste, peacekeeping in the Solomon Islands, peacekeeping throughout the United Nations or the work that we do in our region, in the growing Asia-Pacific area.