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09 December 2020
LINDA REYNOLDS: Well, good morning, everyone. Today is a truly wonderful day for the Royal Australian Air Force and for our Joint Strike Fighter capability. We’re here today to celebrate several significant milestones in this very successful program, which is on time, which is on budget and which is already providing superior air combat capability for the Royal Australian Air Force.
But not only are we providing a fifth-generation jet fighter for the Royal Australian Air Force, we are also providing significant long-term job opportunities for many thousands of Australians right here in Australia.
Today we have 30 Joint Strike Fighters in service at RAAF Williamtown. We’ve got another three on the way from the United States to make to a total of 72 all up. This is a remarkable capability, and there are several milestones.
So today I was delighted to announce four new initiatives in this program. We’ve now reached over 50 Australian companies who are now providing parts and systems into the global Joint Strike Fighter Program, and these contracts for these 50 companies are now worth an incredible $2.7 billion. And that is a remarkable achievement. So that means that in over 600 global Joint Strike Fighters each and every one of them have parts that were made right here in Australia. And as you saw earlier in the demonstration, they are some of the most important and critically important parts that were manufactured here in Australia.
Secondly, today the Morrison government has launched a new industry support grants program, the Joint Strike Fighter Industry Support Program to further maximise Australian industry opportunities. And there is no question in our mind that there are many more companies who will not only see opportunities in this global program, but they will also seize these opportunities for many decades to come.
The third announcement today is that we’ve signed an agreement with Lockheed Martin Australia for a contract valued at $100 million to deliver sovereign training capability right here in Australia at RAAF Williamtown. That will employ permanently 70 ADF personnel to deliver this critically important training, again right here in Australia.
And the fourth and I think the most wonderful announcement today was that BAE Systems Australia has employed 25 former Jetstar staff, and two of whom, Colin and Ben, join us here today. And I was delighted to meet them a bit earlier on and hear about their new careers. They were, sadly, made redundant during the COVID crisis in the aviation industry, but, pleasingly and quite wonderfully for them and their families they’ve been able to stay living at Port Stephens, I understand, and keeping their families in place for these jobs, because not only will they be career jobs for the workers themselves but these programs will now provide opportunities for not only their children, their grandchildren and also their great grandchildren.
And I’ll now hand over to the Minister for Defence Industry, Melissa Price, to talk a bit further about not only about Ben and Colin but also about the other opportunities for Australian Defence Industry. Thank you.
MELISSA PRICE: Thank you, Minister Reynolds. And today is a celebration with respect to the Joint Strike Fighter Program but I think more broadly with respect to Australian Defence Industry. We know that there’s more than 70,000 Australians working in our Australian Defence Industry with some 15,000 businesses, and this is growing by the day.
With respect to the Joint Strike Fighter Program, we know that there are,- we’ve already met a few new of our recruits into the Joint Strike Fighter Program. Wonderful opportunities. Only yesterday I had the opportunity to talk about at least 150 new employees for defence industry working across the range of defence Industry companies – ex-Qantas, ex-Virgin workers and here we have ex-Jetstar workers. It’s a great tribute to the civil airline industry that they have got highly skilled people, and we’re just so proud that we’ve been able to have these opportunities where the Australian government is growing our Defence Industry, and well done to BAE with respect to their employment of 25 ex-Jetstar workers.
It’s a great celebration today for the Joint Strike Fighter Program. I was asked today what was my highlight of being in this job for nearly 18 months, and I reflected on it for a minute and I decided it was when I was in Texas over a year ago at the Lockheed Martin assembly plant and the most exciting thing for me was seeing those two Marand vertical tails on every single Joint Strike Fighter. Australian defence industry is incredibly resilient, and we have seen that over COVID. But I know I can speak for myself and the Minister for Defence that we’re just incredibly proud of just how capable we are, and our capability is growing every day. Thank you.