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Government Defence Review - undermines confidence, certainty and consistency.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

3 December 2003

GOVERNMENT DEFENCE REVIEW - UNDERMINES CONFIDENCE, CERTAINTY AND CONSISTENCY

In a report issued today the independent Australian Strategic Policy Institute has highlighted the lack of confidence, certainty and consistency in the Howard Government’s Defence strategic planning.

This independent analysis is a damning critique of the Howard Government’s failure to manage Defence and highlights numerous problems with the Capability Review, including:

• The Government has compromised Australia’s capability to carry out low-level operations, which we are likely to face, to develop a develop a force capable of participating in higher intensity conflicts in ten years time.

• The Capability Review does nothing to address the $18 billion funding hole in the current Defence Capability Plan over the next 10 years. The Government has confirmed that Capability Review will not deliver any additional funding, but has refused to release the detailed costings.

• The Government’s decision to purchase new tanks at a cost of $600 million is described as “puzzling” given our current strategic priorities.

• The serious strategic risk of laying up of two minehunters is highlighted, against a marginal cost saving.

• The early retirement of two frigates is contrasted with the Government’s statements about the high operational tempo of the RAN’s frigates over the last two years. Given the Government has committed to a $1.4 billion upgrade of all six guided missile frigates it appears we will now be paying $1.4 billion to upgrade just four ships.

APSI reinforces Labors concern that the Defence Capability Review has failed to address the serious funding problems within Defence and compromised major capabilities that were identified for the future Defence of the nation.

For information: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617