Minister for Defence - Media Statement - Mr Shorten, please don’t be so short sighted on subs - 13 July 2015

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The Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Minister for Defence

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13 July 2015

Today Mr Shorten and his faithful followers were outside the Australian Submarine Corporation being their usual negative selves. 

While they were doing that, everyone else actually involved in the acquisition process for Australia’s future submarine was getting on with their job, protecting and defending Australia and its national interests. 

When it comes to submarines, the Abbott Government has a plan.  It is a clear plan.  It is the only plan.  Our plan for Australia’s future submarines will deliver the best submarine for our Navy at the best price for the taxpayer. There will be more submarines and more submarine jobs.

The obvious question is: After Labor made no decisions on submarines for six years, why is Mr Shorten and Labor now trying to undermine the established process; the process that Defence advises will deliver the best submarines and the best opportunity for Australian industry? Mr Shorten’s policy on submarines will delay their delivery by an additional five years, on top of the six years of delay when Labor was in government. 

Unlike Labor, defence industry is on board.

Thyssen Krupp Industrial Solutions (TKIS) CEO Dr Hans Christoph Atzpodien was recently quoted in an interview with the Asia Pacific Defence Reporter saying that he welcomed the process. He said that a competitive evaluation process was normal in Europe where potential offers from prime contractors could be very different and difficult to compare.

Brent Clark, the Director of Strategy and Communications at DCNS, said during his tour of Techport in Adelaide: "We’re completely satisfied that the Commonwealth is running a very fair and open process.”

Representatives from all three countries have toured ASC in Adelaide and the feedback about the process has all been positive.

In fact the only negativity is coming from the Labor Party. Whether it be Mr Shorten, Senators Wong or Conroy or any other elected apparatchiks who blindly repeat their banal talking points.  All we hear from the Labor Party is negativity.

The Labor Party needs to give up their negative and xenophobic campaign on submarines.   

Of course, Mr Shorten will do anything to turn the focus away from Labor’s record in Defence:

  • Labor hasn’t commissioned construction of a major naval vessel in an Australian shipyard since the ANZAC class frigates in 1989 (delivered on time and on budget by the Howard Government)
  • The Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government’s only decisions on major vessels where to purchase HMAS Choules and two major Customs vessels offshore
  • Labor cut $16 billion from Defence – reducing spending as a percentage of GDP to the lowest level since 1938.
  • Under Labor defence spending as a share of GDP dropped to 1.56 per cent in the 2012-13 Budget – the lowest level since 1938.
  • In 2012-13 the Labor government’s 10.5 per cent cut to Defence was the largest single cut since the Korean War.
  • Immediately following its 2009 White Paper, Labor cut or deferred $16 billion from the Defence budget out to 2016-17.
  • Labor’s decisions led to 119 defence projects being delayed, 43 projects being reduced in and eight projects cancelled, risking critical capability gaps.
  • Under Labor the Australian defence industry shed more than 10% of its workforce because of budget cuts and deferrals, procrastination and lack of opportunity for Australian suppliers.

I encourage Mr Shorten and Labor to join with the Government and present a united voice promoting Australia as a great place to do business and to promote our skilled shipbuilding workforce in a positive manner.  For the sake of all Australians, we need to do what is in the national interest. 

Media contact

Brad Rowswell (Minister Andrews’ Office) 0417 917 796

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