Minister for Defence - Minister for Defence Kevin Andrews talks about his visit to the Australian Submarine in Adelaide, SA.

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The Hon Kevin Andrews MP

Minister for Defence

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22 January 2015


QUESTION: What have you seen and heard here, and learned most importantly?

KEVIN ANDREWS: Look, can I say it's been a delight to be here, particularly with my friend and colleague Senator David Fawcett. This is very early days for me as the Defence Minister, and one of the things I wanted to do as soon as I possibly could was to come over to Adelaide, to South Australia, and to see what's happening with the Submarine Corporation. I've had a great tour this morning, looking at the destroyer program and now looking at the submarine program as well; and that basically provides me with a lot of information and gives me context for starting to look at the next stages of where we continue to build our defence capacity in Australia.

QUESTION: Are you going to build the future subs here?

KEVIN ANDREWS: Look, there's a process we're going to go through. We have not made any decisions at this stage about the building of future submarines. There is a proper process we go through. But I thought it was important that I come over here to Adelaide, to South Australia, and look at what's happening here. We've not ruled anything in or out at this stage; it will go through the proper process, we will do it in a very cautious - from my perspective we'll do it in a conservative way, and we'll make sure that we have the right decision for the defence of Australia, and the other needs we need to take into account.

QUESTION: And [indistinct]?

KEVIN ANDREWS: We haven't got a specific timeline at this stage, and it's always more important to get the right decision than to be meeting any artificial timeline. That's been my approach to every portfolio that I've held, and will be the approach that I take in this portfolio as well.

QUESTION: What about [indistinct]-

QUESTION: [Talking over] What about design work on the - sorry, just what about the design work on the subs? Is ASC still in the running, or are you looking-

KEVIN ANDREWS: [Interrupts] Look, all of these are questions to be answered in the future. As I said, this is a fact-finding mission for me; it's to show that I in particular want to know all aspects of this program that's going to be involved, and I thought one of the starting points to do that was to come here to Adelaide and look at what's happening now. And I've been delighted with having the opportunity, along with Senator Fawcett, and indeed my colleague Matt Williams earlier this morning, to have a look around. And this gives me some very useful background for the future.

QUESTION: And from what you've seen today, would you trust them to build a canoe?

KEVIN ANDREWS: Look, I'm not making comments along those lines whatsoever. I'm very fond of Adelaide as a city, it's my second-favourite city in Australia. It happens to have another attraction this week as well, which I might get to see a little bit of as well. But this is a- obviously a very significant operation so far as Adelaide, South Australia, and Australia is concerned.

QUESTION: We've had-

QUESTION: [Indistinct].

KEVIN ANDREWS: Last question please.

QUESTION: Robert Ovadia from Channel 7 has been covering this story over the last few weeks, and basically it implicates the Chief of Army in some knowledge that he had to do with the Jedi Council. Are you aware of that, and do you stand by his actions in relation to that matter?

KEVIN ANDREWS: Look, that's a story I'm not aware of at this stage. So I'm not going to comment on something I don't know about.

QUESTION: Will you be looking into it? Because it is rather a- rather damning of the Chief of Army?

KEVIN ANDREWS: As I said, I don't know anything about the story, so I won't make any comment because it would be simply a hypothetical comment, and that would be inappropriate. I must go, so, I must-

QUESTION: Do you have confidence in the Chief of Army?

KEVIN ANDREWS: I must go. I have confidence in all the military. [Indistinct] Australia we have one of the finest, if not the finest, defence forces in the world. I'm very proud of them all the way from the private right through to the senior ranks of the Australian military. And I think Australians can take great pride in the military of Australia.

Thanks very much. I must go. Sorry.

QUESTION:  And are you riding the Bupa Challenge tomorrow?

KEVIN ANDREWS: Oh look, I'll answer that one. I am. I hope it's no hotter than today. I'm not sure how I'm going to get through 151 kilometres as it is, but my 17-year-old son might have to give me a tow at some stage, so. Thanks very much. Good. Thank you.

QUESTION: Thank you.


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