Speech: Address to the Chief of Army Symposium

Release content

10 August 2022

Acknowledgements omitted.

Last week, the Albanese Government announced details of the Defence Strategic Review, including the Terms of Reference and the independent leads who will conduct this Review for the Government.

The Review was commissioned to ensure that Australia has the necessary capability to defend ourselves in the most complex strategic environment we have encountered as a nation in over 70 years.

It is vital that our defence force remains positioned to meet our global and regional security challenges.

To meet these challenges, the Review will examine force structure, force posture and preparedness, and investment prioritisation, to ensure Defence has the right capabilities to meet our growing strategic needs.

This Review will prepare Australia to effectively respond to the changing regional and global strategic environment.

And it will ensure that Defence's capability and force structure is fit for purpose, affordable, and delivers the greatest return on investment.

It is an essential element of ensuring we have a capable and sustainable Australian Defence Force.

The Albanese Government is committed to ensuring that our defence forces have the capability and technological edge they need to protect Australia and contribute to peace and security in our region.

One of the reasons I attended the ADSTAR Summit in Sydney and the reason I am here today is to reinforce that commitment - to Defence, to Army, to industry, and to the researchers and academics who are our essential partners in fostering leading-edge innovation in Australia.

One of the things that makes this Symposium unique is that it provides an opportunity for Army to directly interact with Australian industry.

It is a showcase for the extraordinary innovation and technologies that are being developed every day, through productive partnerships between Defence Science and Technology Group, Army and technical experts in industry and in our universities.

On the floor of the Expo, you will see innovation in action, delivering solutions to Australia’s biggest defence and security challenges.

And there is one innovation in particular that it is my honour to launch today.

On the floor of the Expo you will see a very imposing, very impressive, black Bushmaster.

The Bushmaster is the iconic, Australian-designed and Australian-built Protected Mobility Vehicle.

Bushmasters protected Australians in Iraq and Afghanistan.

When Ukrainian President Zelenskyy addressed the Australian Parliament, seeking our support as his nation fought to defend their homeland, he asked us for Bushmasters.

And Australia answered his call, committing to send 60 Bushmasters  as part of a total military assistance package of more than $385 million dollars to support the brave people of Ukraine to defend themselves against Russia’s brutal and illegal invasion .

Today the icon takes a new step into the future, because this Bushmaster is electric.

It’s a prototype that will provide a unique electric vehicle for Army to formally assess it for future land capabilities.

Over the past 18 months, this Bushmaster has undergone a transformation at 3ME Technology in Newcastle in New South Wales.

As I am also the Assistant Minister for Veterans Affairs, I’d like to take a moment to acknowledge that 3ME Technology is a veteran-owned company, and to congratulate Army for recognising and utilising the great pool of talent and insight that our resides in the veteran community.

3ME, with a team of Army engineers from the local reserve unit, stripped away the mechanical propulsion, and replaced it with powerful electric drives.

It now accelerates up to four times faster than a standard Bushmaster.

It is almost silent and generates a much reduced heat signature – both assets on the battlefield.

And it has fewer parts – which means fewer things can go wrong.

The prototype Bushmaster on display is the beginning of a journey, not the end.

And the electric Bushmaster will face a significant challenge when it joins Team Army at the Bathurst 1000.

The Army is working through the challenges of range and other issues around how it will perform in a hostile, contested and challenging environment.

I know the Army staff from the Robotic and Autonomous Systems Implementation and Coordination Office – known as RICO - will be happy to talk about those with you at the Expo.

But this technology has the potential to carry our troops by day and power a headquarters by night, and I am very glad it is being pursued.

One of the truly destructive things about the “climate wars” is the way they politicise science and technology.

Science is science, technology is technology, and we should always seek to apply the very best of both to support our Australian Defence Force personnel.

The purpose of the ADF is to protect Australia and its national interests, and given our national interest certainly includes our environment and our climate, when the two intersect that should be welcomed.

So I’m pleased to note this vehicle achieves zero carbon emissions.

And I’m delighted to confirm for the benefit of some of my political opponents that an electric Bushmaster won’t “end the weekend” in Australia.

In fact, its emergence helps to mark a shift away from that empty rhetoric.

Instead, we are now at the start of a new era where the reality of the security implications of climate change are accepted and no longer ignored.

That’s why climate change cooperation is now a hallmark of the Australia–United States Alliance.

When the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence met with his US counterpart at the Pentagon in July, both acknowledged the critical importance of enhancing diplomatic, economic and security investments in the Indo Pacific, including addressing the threat of climate change.

And this was reinforced during the Indo-Pacific Chiefs of Defence conference co-hosted with the United States Indo-Pacific Command in Sydney last month and attended by military leaders from 27 countries.

Discussions there centred on the security implications of climate change as well as conflicts in the Indo-Pacific and Ukraine.

During my address to the conference, I highlighted the new era we are now entering of collaboration with our regional partners and neighbours.

In particular, the Albanese Government will ensure our relationships are underpinned by respect and genuine partnership.

And at the close of the conference, the Chief of the Defence Force, joined the Chairman of the US Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Mark Milley, and the Commander of the U.S. Indo-Pacific Command, Admiral Chris Aquilino, to emphasise the shared commitment to working closely with regional partners on issues that matter to them.

And in this regard, they acknowledged the importance of enhancing engagement on climate change.

That’s why Australia is now taking our foot off the brake and positioning Australia to capitalise on the wide range of opportunities arising from global climate action, as well as addressing the inherent security risks.

I know that a number of Army personnel are here in person and watching online.\

I’d like to acknowledge and thank you for everything you do to protect and serve our country.

In classrooms around the nation Australian school children learn about the ingenuity of the Anzacs who invented the “drip gun” to deceive the enemy in the final hours of the evacuation from the Gallipoli Peninsula.

Their inventiveness is Australia’s history and your heritage, and it is both an example and an inspiration for the journey the ADF is now undertaking.

One of the reasons I am so glad to be launching the electric Bushmaster is that it represents a terrific example of teamwork, collaboration and partnership, between Defence Science and Technology Group, Army, and industry.

That has been a hallmark of the success of Australian defence innovation, and it is our template for success in the future, as we pursue a more potent sovereign capability for our nation.

Thank you for inviting me to join you today, and I wish you all a most successful Symposium.

ENDS

Other related releases