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Labor's turbulence on air combat capability.\n



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Senator the Hon Nick Minchin Leader of the Opposition in the Senate Shadow Minister for Defence

Tue, 19th February 2008

LABOR'S TURBULENCE ON AIR COMBAT CAPABILITY

Minister Joel Fitzgibbon has today confirmed he is all over the place on Australia's air combat capability, Shadow Minister for Defence, Senator Nick Minchin said today.

On 30 October 2007, Mr Fitzgibbon said: "The Howard government has committed us to both the JSF and the Super Hornet and we accept that they will be part of our air capability mix. If a Rudd Labor government is elected we will review our air capability to determine if additional capability is required to maintain Australia's air superiority."

Now, with the details of the Air Combat Capability Review announced, the Minister is backing away from this statement.

Today on 2UE's Mornings with Steve Price, Mr Fitzgibbon said: "I've made it clear that in the end that if the advice comes to me from the review that the Super Hornet is not up to the job I would have no hesitation in cancelling it, but that remains an unanswered question."

"The Minister's comments show that he has no qualms putting in jeopardy our relationships with industry partners, imposing huge contract penalties on taxpayers, or potentially damaging the DMO's negotiating position on all procurement projects," Senator Minchin said.

"The Review needs to show that we have no air combat capability gap, and I am confident the decisions of the previous Government ensure no gap will occur.

"We welcome the Review and look forward to its recommendations, but I urge Labor to be careful not to damage our defence relations along the way with its persistent side commentary about what they hope, for political convenience, the Review will conclude.

"The new Government is quick to criticise previous defence procurement projects, but they have inherited a well-equipped and deployment-ready Australian Defence Force who deserve better than meaningless speculation about capabilities," Senator Minchin said