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Wednesday, 20 February 1980
Page: 105

Mr HAYDEN - I ask a question of the Minister for Defence. In view of his self-acclaimed achievements as Minister for Defence, will he state why the actual program of defence expenditure, both generally and on capital equipment, falls so far short of the five-year defence program he outlined in 1976? Is it a fact that spending at this point is in real terms some $ 1,500m below the level which was set in that report to be achieved by this period? Is it a fact that spending on capital equipment is in real terms some $560m below that level? Is it a fact that in the last two years the value of major new equipment approved in the Budgets has fallen to $103m and $129m respectively, the lowest levels for more than seven years? If he claims that his administration has been one of signal achievement, how can he produce evidence to justify such a claim in light of the fact that his record falls far short of the program which was outlined in the White Paper?

Mr KILLEN - The honourable gentleman makes a number of very wild assumptions. Now I put to one side replying to all of those assumptions. It will please me no end to reply to the honourable gentleman when Question Time finishes. I hope that the honourable gentleman may possibly come into the House so that he will eventually find out where Afghanistan is. I say this to the honourable gentleman: I listen to what he says with a great deal of care, if not always with rapture. I read what the honourable gentleman writes, again with care if not with rapture. I re-read the honourable gentleman's speech of 27 October 1976 to the Joint Services Staff College, Canberra. What did the honourable gentleman have to say to that distinguished gathering? He said:

The Budget situation for defence will be tight and put strain on the total Budget context and on economic management.

He went on to say:

Future defence expenditure must be subject to the most rigorous cost effectiveness disciplines.

Mr Hayden - What is wrong with that?

Mr KILLEN - I agree with it. I point out to the honourable gentleman that in a time of massive financial constraint this Government managed to maintain a real growth in defence expenditure. From that fact the honourable gentleman can not escape.

Opposition members interjecting-

Mr SPEAKER -Order! The Minister will resume his seat. The House will come to order. The Minister was asked a question and he is entitled to answer it in silence.

Mr KILLEN - I do not want to disturb my honourable friends opposite too much. However, I do say this to the honourable gentleman: The fact of life is that there has been, despite economic constraint, a continuation, year by year, in real growth in defence expenditure.

Mr Hayden - Fiddlesticks; it is still 2.6 per cent of the gross domestic product.

Mr KILLEN - The honourable gentleman's record in government was an abysmal record in the defence field. Beyond that it was an absolutely disgraceful record in economic management. It is because of the bumbling and bungling and sheer devastation of the Australian economy by the Opposition when in government that we have had to battle so significantly and in such an emphatic way for so long. The honourable gentleman has had his day and the sooner Bob Hawke arrives here the better for us all.

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