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Thursday, 17 September 2015
Page: 7221


Senator LEYONHJELM (New South Wales) (18:19): The Liberal Democrats accept that national defence is a legitimate role for the Commonwealth government. The Navy comprises part of that defence. Furthermore, because there are only two types of ships—submarines and targets—we support the need for submarines. However, we know that unnecessary spending means excessive taxation and that putting Australia further into debt only makes us less secure. Unfortunately, so far the Collins class submarine replacement project appears to consist mainly of unnecessary spending. The government insists on building submarines here, so it is the most expensive defence procurement project in Australian history.

If the government were taking advice, I would tell them to buy second-hand nuclear-powered submarines. These would halve the cost. They are already proven and would be much safer than gas-belching diesel subs that are forced to the surface on a regular basis. However, I know that nothing I say here will make the government change its mind, because none of this is about good submarines. I also know that my colleagues, such as Senators Xenophon, Lambie, Lazarus and Madigan have all made a case to get a piece of the spend for their states. I cannot say I blame them for this. Let us face it, vocational options for people in some of the states they represent are limited to working for a senator or picking up road kill.

So I have decided to make a bid on behalf of the people of New South Wales. Mr President, today I call on the government to shift its $50 billion submarine project to Western Sydney. You know it makes sense. If you want truly Aussie submarines, you need to build them in Western Sydney.

As we all know, there are only two types of Australians: people who live in New South Wales, and people with a chip on their shoulder. When Australia was first settled by Europeans, everything in Australia consisted of New South Wales, until some people started camping out, and decided to form other states. Now some of them want to build submarines. This is a risk that none of us should be forced to take. Who among us doubts that if we put submarines into the wrong hands, Senator Lambie may try a sneak attack on Bondi Beach, or South Australia become the Republic of Xenophonia?

Western Sydney is the home of Eastern Creek. This venue has the benefit of being both a magnificent waterway, and the centre of Australia's motoring expertise.

The proprietor of a Penrith muffler shop by the name of Ferret advises me that he could custom-make plenty of submarine-shaped vessels at Eastern Creek for much less than a billion dollars and weld them so they are pretty much watertight. He further advises we could generate considerable savings for taxpayers if we were willing to take the aluminium option, rather than stainless steel.

The proprietor of a Blacktown engine reconditioning shop, Raylene, tells me she can source any number of Australian-made V8 engines to power the submarines. She is willing to charge taxpayers mates' rates, too.

But because it is important that submarines are quiet, and V8 engines in the western suburbs are not usually quiet, we may have to look elsewhere in New South Wales to find a muffler manufacturer. However, I am in no doubt at least one will be found. Nothing could be more Aussie than that.

Some might argue that a submarine powered by V8 engines would not be especially stealthy, but I doubt it would be any noisier than an unmodified WB V8 Caprice or Statesman. And seriously, who can argue with that—especially when you recall they'll be Aussie, and will leave all other ocean vessels behind in a cloud of smoke.

There is one vexing question, however, and that is: should the engines be Ford or Holden? Since I do not wish to marginalise half my voter base, I propose that this sensitive question be decided by plebiscite.

In addition, New South Wales can provide everything else we need for the submarines. This includes furry dice made from premium Goulburn merino wool, knitted by Slim Dusty's daughter, and hung up in the control room.

Of course, an Aussie sub would not be complete without some bumper stickers, commemorating various B&S balls, and reminding foreign invaders, 'Eff off. We're full.'

To make it completely Aussie, I propose that the whole Eastern Creek Submarine Corporation be overseen by Dick Smith.

But the most important reason to adopt my modest proposal is that western Sydney is home to around one million voters. And isn't that what all this is about?

Senate adjourned at 18:25