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Senator the Hon David Johnston
Minister for Defence
7 October 2013
Thank you Chris and to you, congratulations on this morning’s breakfast and for the little I have seen of PAC13 so far. Can I acknowledge you and your committee, representing the Premier my good friend Tim Owen MP, Member for Newcastle, Stuart Robert the Assistant Minister for Defence, and distinguished honoured guests – High Commissioners, Ambassadors, Chiefs of Navy and Admirals. To all of you ladies and gentlemen, thank you for supporting the Royal Australian Navy over the last three days and thank you for coming along this morning and supporting Australian defence industry.
The one person I left out in my acknowledgements of course was our Chief of Navy. Vice Admiral Griggs has achieved something which the Commonwealth has been seeking to do quite unsuccessfully for more than 100 years – that is produce a happy, smiling, grateful State Premier. I had the pleasure of greeting His Royal Highness Prince Harry on Friday night with the Premier and his delightful wife Rosemary and my wife was with me, and I must say that exercise was the highlight of my wife’s parliamentary career. A more delightful young man you could not wish to meet.
Can I say very briefly thank you to all of those Navies and all of those countries that have sent personnel to Australia to celebrate the Royal Australian Navy’s 100th anniversary of the first entry into Sydney. There has been an enormous amount of money expended by you all in bringing your ships and your personnel to our country. Sydney Harbour is the strategic jewel in our maritime naval crown, and I hope you have come to appreciate it as much as we do.
I should mention the first visit of the Nigerians; they have come such a long way in Thunder, a beautiful ship. Vice Admiral Ezeoba and I had a long talk on Saturday on board HMAS Leeuwin, it was simply great to see him bring his personnel all this way to Australia to celebrate our 100th anniversary, and that said to me that the future of our Navies working together, particularly in law enforcement areas, is something we can take great confidence and comfort in, in the future.
I also want to thank and pause to mention our sponsors and I see them flashing up on the screen one after another. Times have been tough and it never escapes me to acknowledge that many of you have written cheques in support of the various functions that this conference is going to put on during three or so days. Thank you very much for that, can I tell you that the relationship between Defence and industry has been just that – a relationship. The future holds more than that for us all. We seek to provide in the Anglo jurisprudential sense a partnership with industry - a partnership that we have not realised in the past. There will be ideas, there will be innovative ways of doing things, and there will be investment opportunities for industry that we will see on the table in the near future in and under the umbrella of a partnership. That is the future for Defence capability in Australia.
We are of course as you all well know a maritime nation, and many of you have heard me talk about the responsibility of Canberra in that regard. But let me pause to say that in Western Australia we have the Gorgon project which is 40 trillion cubic feet of gas. That is enough gas to keep one million people in electricity for eight hundred years. Next door is Wheatstone at 36 trillion cubic feet, Browse to the North of Broome is three times bigger than Gorgon. We have 100 years of coal in the ground simply because we have been tired of digging up the reserves; we have vast mineral and other resources. This year we will produce about 20 million tonnes of wheat if the weather keeps looking after us, about 5% of that will stay in Australia. We are utterly dependant on the security of our maritime sea lanes of communication and that is why the Royal Australian Navy is so important to our economic future.
I don’t want to go on other than to say the partnership that I talk of is very well represented by what we have recently seen in Hawaii with HMAS Perth, which Chief of Navy touched on. CEA have done a magnificent job in bringing forward world-class cutting edge technology. They have a partner and an equity participant in Northrop Grumman, they have a partner in systems provision through SAAB Australia, and that is the sort of partnership and model that we will evolve into the future to provide cutting edge capability for our capacity and our ability to defend our maritime sea lanes. The success of HMAS Perth in Hawaii recently has many interested folks sitting up and taking notice of this capability.
In line with that I want to tell you about a forerunner of our export defence capacity and of course many of you would be aware of the Nulka system. Today I am very pleased to confirm that in addition to the $700 million in export earnings that the Nulka system has brought to Australia, DMO has recently signed a further $35 million contract with BAE Systems providing further export opportunities for that system. Over 150 vessels in the United States Navy, the Canadian Navy and the Australian Navy have the Nulka system on board. It is a tremendous example of the sort of partnership that I would like to see between Defence and industry coming to fruition to provide world-class cutting edge technology.
So ladies and gentlemen I am looking forward to spending two full days traveling around all of the exhibitions that are on display here and talking to all of you as participants, you who have invested your time and effort in defence industry, who are so necessary to our national security. I want to thank you all for being here and doing the things that you do in a commercially difficult environment, in a way that sees, even when times are tough, you are still able to produce the goods to keep our fighting men and women doing their best to fight and win. So it is with extreme and great pleasure and gratitude that I say thank you for being here today and I declare the conference open and I look forward to meeting you all. Thank you very much.
Other related releases
Minister for Defence - Opening address to the Submarine Institute of Australia Biennial conference, Fremantle WA
Minister for Defence – Address to the American Chamber Of Commerce in Australia
Minister for Defence - Defence and Industry Conference 2014
Minister for Defence - Speech - Alliance 21 Conference, United States Studies Centre, Australian War Memorial