This Budget is about building a strong and prosperous economy for a safe and secure Australia, and that means a strong and capable Australian Defence Force (ADF).
The 2014-15 Budget demonstrates that the Government is delivering on its election commitment to repair Labor’s reckless underinvestment in Defence. As we promised, there have been no further cuts to Defence spending and we have reaffirmed our commitment to restoring Defence spending to two per cent of GDP within the decade.
The Government is delivering on its commitment to provide the Australian Defence Force with the equipment it needs to protect and promote Australia’s interests and values in an uncertain world.
Overall, since being elected in September last year, the Government has approved the acquisition of core ADF capabilities for decades to come, including the Joint Strike Fighter ($12.4 billion) and the P-8A Maritime Patrol Aircraft ($4 billion).
The Government is determined to develop a strong and capable future ADF that is deliverable and sustainable. As we promised before the election, we have commissioned a new Defence White Paper. At its heart will be an alignment of the Government’s defence policy with a clear military strategy and an affordable ADF structure. The White Paper, to be informed by Force Structure and First Principles Reviews, will deliver a fully costed, viable Defence Capability Plan that delivers the capability the ADF needs to meet the Government’s strategic direction. Unlike Labor, we will release a public 10-year Defence Capability Plan that industry can rely on.
The White Paper will be released in 2015. In the meantime, we need to continue to develop and deliver Defence capabilities. Therefore, the Government has directed Defence to continue to develop and bring forward for consideration the most urgent projects that are needed to meet strategic requirements and prevent capability gaps emerging.
We will, however, only approve projects that are a high priority, are well costed and affordable, and supported by a robust business case.
One of the Government’s highest priorities is preventing the emergence of a submarine capability gap. Defence will continue to implement all of the accepted recommendations from the Coles Review to ensure that the Navy maintains an effective submarine capability until the introduction of the Future Submarine.
As we promised before the election, the Government will soon consider Defence’s plan to progress the Future Submarine to ensure it is achievable and balances cost, capability and risk. We will ensure that Defence is investigating all appropriate options and is drawing on private sector expertise in order to successfully deliver this complex project. Work in Australia on future submarines will centre around the South Australian Shipyards.
When we came to Government in September last year, we discovered that the Defence Materiel Organisation had not been provided with sufficient funding to deliver the projects that the previous Government had approved. This budget rectifies that situation and allows Defence to continue to deliver and bring into service necessary capabilities.
These important decisions reflect the Abbott Government’s commitment to strengthening Australia’s defence capabilities. Providing the ADF with the capability it requires to protect and promote Australia’s interests and values remains a key responsibility for Government, and the 2014-15 Budget reflects this imperative.
For more information and access to the Portfolio Budget Statement go to http://www.defence.gov.au/budget/14-15/pbs/
Mark Dodd (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0477 389 560
Rebecca Horton (Minister Johnston’s Office): 0477 389 554