Doorstop interview, Parliament House, Canberra

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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4 August 2022

SUBJECTS: Defence Strategic Review; Defence spending; Foreign aid

JOURNALIST: There's been a lot of criticism of your choices and people who are going to be running this Defence Review. Why did you choose those people?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I don't think we could want for two more experienced and eminent Australians when it comes to defence. Steven Smith has been both our Defence Minister and our Foreign Minister, has worked extensively in the area since, and will bring to bear both a lot of experience and a lot of knowledge. And Sir Angus Houston, as the Chief of the Defence Force is about as esteemed and revered figure in our nation's defence establishment that there is. So I think we will be very well served by these two people who, I have no doubt, are going to do a stellar job in in what is an absolutely critical review.

JOURNALIST: Is Labor going to be cutting back on spending in defence?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: No, we're not. And we've made really clear that we're committed to a spend in defence the equivalent of 2 per cent of GDP. We've made it really clear that we are committing to the funding envelope which underpins the Integrated Investment Plan, which is the 10-year procurement schedule for defence. What the review will do is apply a critical eye to that to make sure that each of those procurements is fit for purpose, given the strategic circumstances that we face. And more than that, you know, in a rational world the level of defence spending is a function of strategic complexity, strategic threat, and we're rational people.

JOURNALIST: On managing strategic threat, there's also, you know, talk about the need for other measures, like looking at diplomacy, aid budgets, etc. Do you think that's something that your Government will be looking at those particular areas, potentially ramping up funding there? What are your thoughts on this space?

DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: The front line of engagement in the world is diplomacy. And we are huge believers in diplomacy. And development assistance, has been very central to what we have been about as a party as a movement. And when we've been formerly in government, and when we're in government now, around our engagement in the world. And you look at the work that the Foreign Minister has done in diplomacy and looking at how we can better deploy our development assistance, they are fundamental in terms of the way in which we build Australia's strategic space in the world.

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