Watch Matt's speech here
Mr KEOGH (Burt) (11:10): In recent weeks the Morrison government has been caught out time and time again. This government made an election promise of about 1,500 jobs to Queensland as part of the Land 400 phase 2 project. However, last week we found out that only 330 jobs would be going to that state. This government has developed a habit of trying to buy votes through misleading the Australian people. This, like the sports rorts scandal, has had but one objective: to buy an election result. It's not to develop a plan for this country, not to heave us out of the economic slumber that we are currently in, not to get more people into work, not to develop our sovereign defence industry capability but just to manipulate the Australian people into electing them for another three years.
This, like many other election commitments, was merely a stab in the dark at buying some votes with the thought that they wouldn't actually have to follow through. There was an expectation set by the Prime Minister, and those LNP members from Queensland, that Queensland would be getting the lion's share of jobs from Land 400 phase 2's $5 billion contract. In the lead-up to the election, in fact as recently as August 2019, the Prime Minister told The Courier-Mail that he expected most of the predicted 1,400 jobs of that stage would go to Queensland. In fact, only 20 per cent of these jobs are heading to the sunshine state.
We know that this is yet another example of #Scotty from Marketing nabbing a headline and being loose with the truth. The spin over substance has left the people of Queensland without many of the much needed, valued jobs that they need in the defence industry space. It's yet another example of this government using the defence space as a partisan ATM rather than creating a sovereign capability, building a self-sustaining defence industry workforce and capability. The government claims that they're making a $200 billion investment in Australian defence capability, but last week it was revealed that instead of the money being spent on new equipment, technology and infrastructure for our defence force some is being spent on internal departmental salaries, sexual assault victim compensation, pollution clean-up and keeping the Defence department's IT systems barely running. This program is meant to be used to ensure our defence personal have the equipment and capability to keep our nation safe. Instead, they are quietly siphoning off money from this budget to cover their running expenses. They are, indeed, robbing Peter to pay Paul.
This government is not serious about job creation, and it is not serious about maintaining and growing our Australian defence industry. Last week Naval Group revealed it will spend nearly 60 per cent of the value of the Future Submarine contract in Australia, but nobody can confirm if or when it will be an enforceable contractual requirement. You can't trust a word this government has to say about the Future Submarine project. The government has been crafty. They say they are spending 60 per cent of the contract cash in Australia, but they mask the fact that the cash will go towards things like hotels, removalists, travel agents, linguists and—wait for it—even the South Australian agricultural society! I've got nothing against agricultural societies; the Kelmscott Agricultural Society in my electorate is one of the oldest in the country. But I fail to see how an agricultural society can contribute to the Australian content required for building submarines let alone developing sovereign capability. Maybe an underwater petting zoo will be included in these submarines, or is the government proposing to develop more killer rabbits of Caerbannog, in which case let's hope that our enemies haven't developed the Holy Hand Grenade of Antioch!
I've spent a lot of time recently meeting with small and medium Australian businesses from across the nation who are working in the defence space. They've all been telling me the same thing: they have no confidence this in this government supporting them in their industry—in job creation and opportunity, as products continue to be purchased off the shelf rather than being made here and businesses are told that they don't have the experience or the workforce to be able to do major defence industry work despite previously supplying the Defence Force—because they simply aren't getting the opportunity when they're put up against outsourced, overseas industry. Australian businesses are continuously being shown that there should be opportunities but then are locked out, time and time again. So I thank the member for Braddon for putting forward this motion that provides the opportunity to speak on the lack of support that this government has been providing to Australian defence industry or to developing our sovereign capability for our defence force industry support, sustainment, procurement and build.