Newspaper reports today suggest that the Opposition has once again committed itself to having no clear position when it comes to Defence capability.
$4 billion Global Hawk purchase on the run
The Coalition has restated its commitment to the purchase of Global Hawk high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned surveillance aircraft without a proper tender process. The Leader of the Opposition originally announced the purchase of three Global Hawks on 23 April 2010 – for which the Opposition provided no funding in their 2010 election costings.
Senator Johnston has today revealed that the Opposition will now acquire fifteen Global Hawks. This is more than double the Government’s current costed plans to acquire up to seven high-altitude, long-endurance unmanned aircraft at an estimated cost of up to $2 billion.
The current version of the Global Hawk is not best suited to perform specialised maritime roles essential to meetAustralia’s demanding border security requirements.
This on the run $4 billion purchase of 15 Global Hawks comes at the same time that Shadow Treasurer Joe Hockey and Shadow Finance Minister Andrew Robb are pledging to cut $70 billion in Government spending.
JSF and Super Hornets
The Coalition now also says it would halve the acquisition of Joint Strike Fighter (JSF) aircraft and purchase additional F/A-18F Super Hornets based on concerns over the United States JSF Program.
As I have consistently outlined in recent months, both inAustraliaand in theUnited States, the Government will not allow an air combat capability gap to emerge in the event of JSF schedule delay.
The Government will undertake a detailed risk assessment on the progress of the JSF, in tandem with the US Government’s review of the project, early next year. I have also already stated that there is an obvious alterative option, involving the acquisition of more Super Hornets.
The Coalition has again failed to commit itself to any number of future submarines, let alone whether they will be assembled inAustralia. The Government remains committed to assembling twelve future submarines inAustralia.
Senator Johnston and Mr Abbott should simply say whether they will have twelve new submarines, or not.
As I have said in recent months, the Government will not be rushed in assessing options for what will be the largest procurement project in the history of the Commonwealth.
Next White Paper
The Coalition pledges to “tear up” the White Paper, while continuing to draw from it across the range of capability areas.
The next White Paper is scheduled to be delivered in the first quarter of 2014, meeting the Government’s commitment of a White Paper every five years.
The Coalition’s announcement of White Paper shortly after the scheduled election, due towards the end of 2013, simply mirrors the Government’s long standing position.