TRANSCRIPT: RESPONSE TO QUESTION WITHOUT NOTICE IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
TRANSCRIPTION: PROOF COPY E & OE
DATE: 14 May 2013
NICK CHAMPION, MEMBER FOR WAKEFIELD: My question is for the Minister for Defence. How does the Government's Defence White Paper outline a plan to provide for Australia's future security?
STEPHEN SMITH, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: I thank the Member for his question and acknowledge his longstanding interest in national security matters, particularly our maritime security and the capability of Adelaide to be at the heart and centre of that.
The Prime Minister and I released the Defence White Paper on 3 May and that provides the strategic analysis which fits Australia for our future national security challenges. The strategic analysis in the White Paper has been widely regarded as a sensible and careful analysis of those future challenges and risks.
It provides a roadmap for us to protect and enhance Australia's national security interests.
The White Paper outlines, in the Government's view, the formation of a new strategic entity which we describe as the Indo-Pacific. This reflects not just the rise of China but also the rise of India. The paper draws attention to the essential need for the United States-China relationship to be a positive and productive one, and particularly for that relationship to grow from an economic relationship to a relationship at the same level in the political, strategic, defence-to-defence and military-to-military area.
We also acknowledged the importance of the United States rebalance and some of the current issues facing Australia: a drawdown from Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and the Solomons, and our own Force Posture Review reflected by the first Force Posture Review in over 25 years.
And so the strategic analysis sets out those challenges. The capability decisions made in the White Paper allow the Australian Defence Force, the ADF, to meet those challenges for the future and to discharge the obligations given to it by the Government. The two primary decisions made in the White Paper so far as capability is concerned are the purchase of 12 off-the-production-line Growler electronic warfare capability aircraft to add to our 24 Super Hornets and to our 71 Classic Hornets and, importantly, a narrowing of our capability decision so far as our 12 submarines to be assembled in South Australia are concerned: to an evolved Collins model or to a brand-new design—in contrast to those opposite, through their Shadow Minister, who look only at an off-the-shelf foreign purchase.
I have seen a lot of comment made about finance in this area. The White Paper does respond to the adverse implications of the global financial crisis. I have also seen reference that the fact that we are not currently at two per cent of GDP spending creates a crisis in Defence spending. We remain the 13th largest defence spender, and if you think there is a crisis in Defence spending because we are not at two per cent of GDP then I regret to advise the House that we have had that crisis since 1999. We have not had two per cent of GDP since that time. We have an aspiration to go to two per cent, but we have a bipartisanship approach here to defence spending: everyone has an aspiration to two per cent, but that has not been met in reality since 1999.