Let me begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land on which we meet this morning and by thanking Uncle Brian and Aunty Violet very much for their very warm welcome to country. Air Marshal Shepherd, Chairman of the Airshow, Premier of Victoria Daniel Andrews, Air Marshal Leo Davies, Chief of Air Force, Doctor Kathy Alexander from the City of Geelong, Your Excellencies many, our wonderful RAAF Band and the Navy Bungaree Dance Troupe – I think you can see why we’re so proud of them – special guests all.
I am very, very pleased to be here at the International Airshow at Avalon. It’s no great secret that I am a huge Cats fan so I am always happy to be in the area of Geelong anyhow, just for starters. But this is a very important event on the Australian Defence Force’s calendar and this year we have a particularly busy schedule of engagements. As I arrived this morning and looked around, and came down here to this assembly area and looked around a little more, I can’t think of a better place for a Defence Minister to start the day.
This is an opportunity for the community, as well, to see several of the ADF’s future air combat capabilities. This year I am advised that almost 200,000 people are expected to attend. So this is a significant event – significant for Defence, significant for industry, for aviation and for Victoria. I am very pleased that the Turnbull Government is able to support the Airshow in the way that we do. Air Force, Army, Navy, as the Chief has said, are all represented in various capacities and for Defence this year Avalon is a real opportunity to reveal for the first time in Australia a number of cutting-edge, new platforms that will be central to the future ADF.
It’s almost a year ago to the day that, with the Prime Minister, I launched the 2016 Defence White Paper and we committed in that White Paper to investing in greater strike and air combat capabilities for our Air Force. We committed to creating a more potent, capable and agile Australian Defence Force and our Air Force is a key part of that strategy, which is why the Australian International Airshow here at Avalon is such an important occasion. And here this week, as Air Marshal Davies has said, we’ll be demonstrating several new fifth-generation platforms that will be central to our potent new Air Force. Today, in the first of those, we’ll see the arrival of our first Australian Growler. It is a significant leap forward in Australia’s joint electronic warfare capability, adding a dedicated electronic attack option for the first time. And towards the end of the week – and this has attracted a little public attention as well – we will also welcome Australia’s first two F-35A Joint Strike Fighters to Avalon. The F-35 will transform not only how the Air Force does business, but the way the Australian Defence Force will operate.
These are seminal events in Air Force’s history, in Defence’s history and seminal events here at Avalon. I see that there is a focus, as well, on the promotion of skills and career options. That is vitally important to the strong future of the ADF. I am very pleased to see the Defence Force Recruiting marquee right here behind me today.
I am very excited to be here and to welcome to you all to the Avalon International Airshow. Congratulations on a great event and best wishes for a fabulous week.