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Delay on air combat decision becoming harmful.

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Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia Media Release DELAY ON AIR COMBAT DECISION BECOMING HARMFUL The newly appointed Shadow Minister for Defence Senator David Johnston has roundly criticised the Rudd Government for sitting on an important decision on Australia’s air combat capabilities for five months. Defence Minister Joel Fitzgibbon received the Air Combat Capability Review in May, but is yet to decide if the Joint Strike Fighter will become Australia’s leading edge combat aircraft. “The extraordinarily long delay in making a decision is causing public speculation on the JSF that is wildly inaccurate and could possibly harm the public’s confidence in our defence capabilities,” Senator Johnston said. The Joint Strike Fighter was selected by the Coalition Government after an exhaustive and comprehensive analysis, on the advice of the best defence brains in the country, as the future lead aircraft. Senator Johnston said he had every confidence that the JSF is the right aircraft for the job and would be the backbone of our future capabilities. He speculated that the much publicised policy log jam in the Prime Minister’s office was affecting the decision making process in this instance. “It is widely known that documents like these go into the PM’s office and are never to be seen or heard of again,” Senator Johnston said. “As former Defence Minister Kim Beazley has said, the pace of reform under Rudd has slowed by the constipation of process.” Senator Johnston called on the Defence Minister to take control of the process and make a decision on the JSF now. Media contact: Rebecca Horton 0427 449 120.

Rebecca Horton Media Adviser I Senator the Hon David Johnston Shadow Minister for Defence I Senator for Western Australia

Office (Perth) (08) 9478 2088 I Mobile: 0427 449 120