Subjects: Iraq and Syria, Submarines
It’s great to be here this afternoon, ladies and gentlemen, particularly with my good friend and colleague Russell Matheson, the member for Macarthur, who presides over this beautiful location where we find ourselves today. The launch of the NFF’s digital strategy for Australian farmers is a real watershed in delivering services to farmers in the modern age and makes the most, in a really fabulous way, of the Prime Minister’s most recent announcements in relation to innovation and science and technology and the use of those and hopefully you’ll be able to use some of that footage that you’ve gained today to show that to the nation tonight.
Minister Payne can I just ask, the US has called for a broader coalition and more cooperation and more, perhaps, troops on the ground as well. Have we been either informally/formally approached by them?
So along with, as I understand it, 40 other or so nations we have received correspondence from the US Secretary of Defense which we are considering at the moment. We are of course making a very significant commitment in the Iraq and Syria conflict at the moment, one which we are pleased to see other nations joining in more recently as well. We know that the British government, for example, has recently increased their engagement and the United States in pursuing that with a number of the Coalition partners is exploring other opportunities. We will respond to the United States in due course, but if you bear in mind what we are already doing in our air operations and our building partner capacity work particularly in Taji with New Zealand these are significant undertakings and Australia is already making a very significant commitment.
Minister, [indistinct] consider hardware or troops on the ground if you were to help?
I don’t think that’s necessarily the nature of the question at this stage. We’ve been asked to, as I said, along with 39 other nations to look at what we are already contributing and what more we might do. Where we can play very important roles is perhaps in command positions and we are responding to the United States in relation to that as well.
So can we say then that there has been no request for troops, boots on the ground?
Yes, that’s my response. Yes.
Can I ask about the next generation of submarines, when is a decision likely to be made on that?
I think everybody is very clear on that. Everybody is very clear that we are undergoing a Competitive Evaluation Process, that final submissions were received from all three proponents, DCNS of France, TKMS of Germany, and the Government of Japan, on the 30th of November. They are very, very substantial submissions and they under the process of evaluation and consideration through Defence, through the Future Submarine Office and those recommendations will come back to government and be looked at in that process.
Has there been a delay in this decision making process at all?
No, not at all.
This is just how long it takes?
Well the Competitive Evaluation Process was designed to have submissions received on the 30th of November. All three were received on time, so no delay.
To what extent will it be discussed with Mr Turnbull’s trip to Japan next week?
That’s a matter for the Prime Minister.
Thanks. Thanks everyone.
Henry Budd (Minister Payne's office) 0429 531 143
Defence Media (02) 6127 1999