SUPPORTING THE AUSTRALIAN DEFENCE INDUSTRY IS IN OUR NATIONAL INTEREST

By Matt Keogh MP

01 July 2020

Labor welcomes the Prime Minister’s announcement that an additional $70 billion dollars will be directed to the Australian Defence Force.

Now this seven year old Liberal Government needs to put its money where its mouth is, it must establish assurances this increase in spend will mean more money spent in Australia.

The Australian Defence force is an excellent customer of defence infrastructure and industry globally. 

But we need to be more than that.

Revelations in The Australian Newspaper that British Defence giant BAE Systems, responsible for the construction of the $35 billion Future Frigates are excluding Australian firms from bidding to supply key equipment, inviting only British Suppliers to tender for major contracts on the project are exactly why Australian industry needs to be better supported.

The Government talks a big game when it comes to Defence Industry, but the reality is today’s announcement from the Prime Minister is nothing more than another headline grabbing media release.

It’s time this Liberal Government took Australian Defence Industry seriously, to enforce contract conditions where local companies are integrated into the supply chains of major projects, rather than after the fact.

Because a $270 billion defence spend headline is not the end of this story.

The shame of this announcement is that the Morrison Government is increasing its Defence procurement spend by 35%, while providing no commitment to increase its spend on Australian Defence Industry.

We must be investing in Australia’s sovereign defence capability – not only through contract to contract recruitment - but investing in training, upskilling and a sustainable workforce.

The Government intends to spend $270 billion dollars in Defence over the next ten years.

If only 10 per cent of that was spent in Australia, it would go a long way to supporting a sustainable Australian economy, defence industry and subsequent improvement in the nation’s capability, for the long term.