Doorstop interview, Press Gallery, Parliament House

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The Hon Pat Conroy MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for International Development and the Pacific

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(02) 6277 7840

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24 April 2023

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY, PAT CONROY: Today is a very important day in the history of this country. With the release of the Defence Strategic Review and the Government's response to it, you will see the most significant shakeup of defence policy since the mid 1980s. What you see - what you'll see is announcements and investments to give the Australian Defence Force a focus on long range strike, to deter any potential adversary and to contribute peace and stability in our region.

JOURNALIST: Will reshaping the priorities of the military require cuts in some parts of military to send that funding to areas that require new investment?

PAT CONROY: Well, we've been very upfront that, as a responsible government, we will make the hard decisions. The last government, for example, cut $12 billion from the Defence budget and added $42 billion worth of commitments to the Defence purchasing plan without adding a single dollar. In contrast, we'll be very clear that we will be reducing in scope or delaying projects that are less impactful, that have a lower priority than the announcements we're making. We've already provided details in the Army, for example, that we will be reducing the number of infantry fighting vehicles in order to invest in more HIMARS rocket systems and to deliver land based maritime strike. So, for example, that will increase the range of strike from the Australian Army from 40 kilometres to an excess of 500 kilometres. So, as a responsible government, we'll make the hard decisions. But that money will be going back into greater capability for the Australian Defence Force.

JOURNALIST: Is there new funding coming along with the announcements alongside this review?

PAT CONROY: Well, I won't foreshadow what we'll say later today, but this government is very committed to Defence. We're very committed to national security. The defence of the nation is the first responsibility of the Australian Government and you'll see that exemplified in the release today.

JOURNALIST: Why does the government need - why does Australia need long range strike missiles?

PAT CONROY: Well, we face the greatest strategic uncertainty since World War II. We face the biggest arms race in the region since World War II as well. And we need an Australian Defence Force that has impactful projection, an Australian Defence Force that is able to deter adversaries so that we don't get into conflict in the first place. And part of that is having a long range strike. Potential adversaries knowing that we could strike them in ranges of 100 kilometres rather than 40 kilometres makes them think a second time about potential conflicts.


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