Press Conference, Parliament House, ACT

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The Hon Anthony Albanese MP

Prime Minister of Australia

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Prime Minister's Office - 02 6277 7744 - media@pm.gov.au


The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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dpm.media@defence.gov.au

02 6277 7800


The Hon Pat Conroy MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for International Development and the Pacific

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media@defence.gov.au

(02) 6277 7840

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minister.conroy@dfat.gov.au

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24 April 2023

SUBJECT: Defence Strategic Review.

ANTHONY ALBANESE, PRIME MINISTER: Thanks very much for joining us. We're here today to launch the Defence Strategic Review which we'll be releasing an unclassified version of here today. And I'm joined today of course by the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence, the Minister for Defence Industry and Minister for International Development and the Pacific, our Chief of the Defence Force, and the Secretary of the Department of Defence. National security is the most solemn responsibility of any Australian Government. We confront the most challenging strategic circumstances since the Second World War, both in our region and indeed around the world. That's why we're investing in our capabilities and we’re investing, too, in our relationships to build a more secure Australia and a more stable and prosperous region. The scale and significance of the Defence Strategic Review and my Government's response shows the strength of our determination to keep Australians safe. And I want to take the opportunity to thank Sir Angus Houston and Stephen Smith for their extraordinary work. This represents a document for today and tomorrow. It is the most significant work that's been done since the Second World War, looking in a comprehensive way at what is needed. It demonstrates that in a world where challenges to our national security are always evolving, we cannot fall back on old assumptions. We must build and strengthen our security by seeking to shape the future rather than waiting for the future to shape us. That's just as true for defence capability as it is for energy security, cyber security and, indeed, our economic security. And that's why the work we're undertaking as a result of this Review fits together with everything that our Government is doing to repair our supply chains, upgrade our energy grid, boost our cyber security systems and rebuild faith in our public institutions. The recommendations of this Review will underpin our work, bolstering relationships with our international partners and promoting peace, stability and prosperity in our region and our world. At its core, all of this is making Australia more self-reliant, more prepared and more secure in the years ahead. I congratulate, I thanked already Sir Angus Houston and Stephen Smith, but I also want to thank the CDF, the Department of Defence and our national security team. We have met for many, many hours at dozens of meetings, over the National Security Committee, over a long period of time, both to examine the interim reports that we received, but also to make sure that in the lead-up to the Budget that will be handed down in a little over two weeks, we've got this right. I'm confident that we have got this right and I think this work is work that gives great credit to all those who’ve been involved with it. Tomorrow, of course, we will commemorate, through Anzac Day, all those men and women who served in uniform, to defend our nation, to defend our sovereignty and our freedom. We thank those who’ve done that in the past, but we also honour those men and women who serve us today, and we also through this Review are planning for tomorrow and the future.
 
RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER AND MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Thank you, Prime Minister and let me also start by thanking Sir Angus Houston and Stephen Smith for producing a hugely significant report in the defence history of our nation. Today's defence statement observes that we are facing the most challenging set of strategic circumstances that we have for decades, and we do so at a time where Australia's economic connection with the world has never been greater. We are enormously proud of the Australian Defence Force, which is a fantastic defence force. And the defence posture that we have had for the last few decades has served our nation well. But in the circumstances that we now face, that defence posture is no longer fit for purpose. And so, today, for the first time in 35 years, we are recasting the mission of the Australian Defence Force, which will have five elements to it. Firstly, to defend our nation and our immediate region. Secondly, to deter through denial, any adversary that seeks to project power against Australia or our interests through our northern approaches. Thirdly, to protect Australia's economic connection to the region and the world. Fourthly, with our partners, to provide for the collective security of the Indo-Pacific. And fifthly, with our partners, to provide for the maintenance of the global rules-based order. Now, most of those objectives, as part of the new mission of the Australian Defence Force, are well beyond our shores. And so we need to have a Defence Force which has the capacity to engage in impactful projection through the full spectrum of proportionate response. Now, the Defence Strategic Review contains many recommendations which give expression to that change of posture, but in response to the DSR, today, the Government is announcing that we will be focusing on six initial priorities. The first of those is Australia developing a nuclear-powered submarine capability, and we made significant announcements about that last month. The second is to provide for a much longer range strike capability for our Defence Force, including through the manufacturing of munitions in Australia. The third is to better enable the Australian Defence Force to operate out of our northern bases. The fourth is to provide for a much quicker transition of new, innovative technologies into service and that’s particularly with respect to operationalising pillar two of the AUKUS arrangement. The fifth is investing in the recruitment and the retention of our Defence Force personnel. And the sixth is to improve our defence cooperation with our neighbours in the region, particularly in the Pacific. Now there's been a lot of speculation over the last few days in relation to army, and I want to say something about that. This Review and the Government's response to it does provide for a reshaping of the Australian Army, but in a way which gives it a much greater strike capability and a much longer-range strike capability, but also a much greater ability to operate in a littoral environment. Ultimately, what the DSR recommends and what the Government is going to put in place will give rise to an army with a much more focused mission, with a much more enhanced capability. There are a lot of decisions that we have taken to reprioritise programs to put a focus on the six priorities that I have just described. And there are difficult decisions associated with these and Minister Conroy will speak to some of them. But I do want to highlight that the Review makes a recommendation, which the Government accepts, of establishing a short, sharp Review into Australia's surface fleet, and that is a review that we will undertake, and it will report in the third quarter of this year. But I want to emphasise that in the context of that Review, the DSR makes clear that it is essential Australia maintains a continuous naval shipbuilding capability. We accept that recommendation and we are utterly committed to building ships in both Adelaide and Perth. The cost of the DSR over the forward estimates will be around $19 billion. Much of that is already provided for in the Budget. But as a consequence of the DSR and the Government's response to it, we're reprioritising $7.8 billion worth of programs to enable us to put a focus on the six priorities that I have described. And we can do that over the course of the forward estimates within the current resources which are provided for defence. Beyond that, however, defence spending will need to grow. A recommendation of the DSR is that we do need to see a growing defence budget, and it is absolutely our expectation that defence spending over the medium term, over the decade, will grow above the existing trajectory of growth that we inherited from the former government. The DSR provides for a recommendation around the future articulation of national defence and strategic policy. It does so by recommending to dispense with intermittent White Papers. We agree with this recommendation. And the DSR recommends a structure of having a biennial national defence strategy. So, today, we are announcing that the first national defence strategy will occur next year, and that will be a document which will contain a more granular articulation of a range of the programs that we will be pursuing going forward. All of this is a watershed moment for defence policy in our country's history. And what it will provide for is an Australian Defence Force befitting of a much more confident and self-reliant nation.
 
PAT CONROY, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY: Thanks Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister. Today in the release of the Defence Strategic Review and the Government's response is a vote of confidence in the Australian defence industry. A vote of confidence in saying that we need a sovereign defence industrial base in this country if we are truly to be independent and sovereign and have supply chain resilience. And two great examples of that within the DSR is the commitment to manufacture guided weapons and explosive ordinance within Australia as soon as possible. Second is the commitment to continuous shipbuilding in this country. Around 100,000 Australians rely on the defence industry for their employment. They're a critical part of our national defence effort, and we expect strong future orders for them, particularly in advanced manufacturing around building ships, building nuclear propelled submarines and building some of the most advanced missiles in the world today. Importantly, this Review also recommends, and the Government has accepted, significant reforms to defence procurement to increase the speed of our acquisitions. With the disappearance of the 10-year warning horizon for a major regional conflict, defence acquisition must speed up. We must also embrace more risk in that process with good policies to surround that risk, but we need to give the ADF the equipment they need as soon as possible. Importantly, this builds on important procurement reforms that the Deputy Prime Minister and I announced in October last year to make sure that the money we spend in defence is spent wisely and effectively. We inherited 28 projects running 97 years late cumulatively and we need to do much better and we are working hard on that right now. The Review also goes to innovation, and the need to strengthen and sharpen defence innovation, and that is something that this Government is embracing wholeheartedly. Towards the end of this year, we'll be releasing a defence industrial development strategy that articulates how we'll grow that sovereign industrial base to support the ADF, not just today but into the future. Importantly, as the Deputy Prime Minister said, this Review and the Government's response involves taking hard decisions. The last Government cut $12 billion from Defence since 2016 and added $42 billion of additional spending commitments without a single other project being changed. We are being honest and transparent with the Australian people in saying that we do need to reprioritise, and that includes changing some projects. Most notably, in our attempts to modernise the army and reshape it, make it effective working in a littoral environment, we are reducing the number of infantry fighting vehicles we're acquiring under Land 400 from 450 to 129. That will equip a mechanised battalion as part of a combined arms brigade. But importantly, the money and resources are freed up from that endeavour and the cancellation of a second regiment of self-propelled howitzers will fund the acceleration and expansion of high mobility artillery rocket system HIMARS, rocket systems that are being used so effectively in the Ukraine conflict. And to expand and accelerate the acquisition of land based maritime strike, to give the Australian Army significant range and projection. We'll also be accelerating and expanding the acquisition of landing craft, both medium and heavy, to transport army assets where we need to get them to be. So at the end of this process, we'll go from an Australian Army where the maximum range of the weapons is 40km to being able to fire missiles, initially over a range of 300km, and with the acquisition of the precision strike missile, ranges in excess of 500km. This is about giving the Australian Army the fire power and mobility it needs into the future to face whatever it needs to face.
 
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can you confirm that out of this surface fleet review, we’ll end up seeing less frigates required by Australia as we move towards submarines? And have you had any communication from a foreign Government, including Germany, about downsizing the Land 400 project?
 
PRIME MINISTER: We have a review so that you have it. So that you do the analysis and then you make an announcement on the basis of it. So we won't pre-empt that review. We've been very upfront about where decisions have been made about the Howitzers and about the Land 400 program. And we will have that review, it is reporting in the third quarter of this year, and then, of course, we will make public what the results of that review are.
 
JOURNALIST: My question is for Mr Marles, just on the Review. What assurances can you give local industry, especially companies who have waiting for the Defence Strategic Review, but within that has been announced another review so now they have got to wait again. I know that you said it's a short, sharp Review, but what assurances can you give them?
 
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well it is a short, sharp Review, and it will report in the third quarter of this year. So that's the first point to make. The second point to make is that the DSR makes really clear the need for Australia to maintain a continuous shipbuilding capability in this country. That means both at the Osborne naval shipyard but also Henderson in Perth. And we have accepted that recommendation and we are completely committed as a Government to Australia having a continuous shipbuilding capability. We do feel, as the Review has recommended, that there is merit in having a short condition check at this moment in time about the future shape of our surface fleet. And there are a couple of reasons for that. The first is that the surface fleet, as it's currently constructed, was determined at a time when Australia was still pursuing a diesel electric powered submarine. Now that we are going to be operating a nuclear powered submarine, that is a dramatically different capability, and it obviously has some implication in terms of the overall structure of the Navy, not only as we think about the next decade, but as we think about the next three decades. And the second is that the Defence Strategic Review has observed that navies around the world are moving in the direction, to put it kind of crudely, of having a larger number of smaller vessels. Now, with those two ideas in mind, we are thinking about the long-term structure of our surface fleet. But we are completely committed to having a domestic build right now. The current work in terms of the construction of Hunter will continue, and this Review will report in the third quarter and it will do so in a way which does not see any disruption.
 
JOURNALIST: DPM and PM, there's clear warnings in here that more money for defence will be needed, but it sounds like the Government is going for a cost-neutral position over the forwards. Are you just kicking the can down the road here? And what sort of level of defence spending as a proportion of GDP do you think that we're going to need?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well I'm happy to start. What we've done here through the Defence Strategic Review is look at what assets do we need and where do we need them? So we make no apologies for that just not being all pluses. In some cases, what it means when you have a reassessment of what's required, it would be a, pretty frankly, flawed review that just added things on. And that's been the problem with the former government's approach. They haven't had that comprehensive plan going forward. Now, we make no apologies for having a comprehensive plan going forward which includes, of course, including the previous announcements about AUKUS, $19 billion over the forwards for the DSR, of which $7.8 billion will be with reprioritisation. But we also, as a Government, have made very clear that over a period of time, we see that there will be a need for defence expenditure to increase above that which had previously been budgeted for. We make no apologies for that. But what we don't do, what you shouldn't do with any project, with any expenditure, is just have a target and then try and spend to meet your target. What we're about is, what are the defence assets we need? And we will do whatever is necessary to make sure that that’s provided for our country.
 
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We're looking at reprioritising $7.8 billion over the forward estimates, so that's acting right now. And there is a huge degree of urgency in terms of the action right now. It's to state the obvious that when you stop a particular program, you liberate money immediately, and that's why we believe that we can pursue these six priorities over the forward estimates through a process of reprioritisation right now. It's also to state the obvious that when you're looking at new programs, it takes a while in terms of planning to get to a point where you, to be frank, spend the money associated with those programs, and you can see that if you look at the profile of spending associated with the nuclear powered submarine program, for example. So when you do the profiling of what we need to do in relation to defence, we are able to meet the priorities that we have put in the statement that we've made today, through a process of reprioritisation over the forward estimates, and beyond that, as the Prime Minister has said, we expect defence spending to grow.
 
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, the declassified version of this report does not discuss the possible invasion of Taiwan. In a scenario like that in our Indo-Pacific region, what of the recommendations here changes any possible Australian response to that eventuality, if it were to occur?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Our position is clear, which is we support the status quo. And that's not changed by this. We call for peaceful resolution through dialogue. That's not changed by this.
 
JOURNALIST: PM, the report’s quite critical of the increasing use of the defence forces for domestic disaster response – bushfires, floods and even COVID. And it says it hasn't got the resources to do its day job and do that as well. And it says state and local governments and the Commonwealth have to put in the plans, resources and capabilities to do this separately to defence. Is that a realistic suggestion? Do we have the capacity, financial and personnel wise to have that?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Well it’s a serious suggestion arising out of the Review. And we know that one of the national security issues we're dealing with is climate change, because climate change is resulting in, as the science predicted, more frequent and more intense natural disasters. And the role of the Australian Defence Force is primarily not to deal with our natural disasters and those domestic issues, and that's something that's reflected in the Review. As a result of this Review and the transparency in which we've conducted it, obviously there will need to be further consideration of how we deal with these natural disasters, which I think Australia, in my time as Prime Minister, and I haven't been able to stand here for a year yet, I don’t think that there's been two months when I haven't been visiting Tasmania and northern NSW, the Riverina, the Riverland in South Australia, up in the Kimberley, Northern Queensland – there have been multiple events now. We need to, as a Government, and as a nation, work out an appropriate response and the Review is really indicating very clearly that that context can’t be just saying ‘oh well, we'll rely upon the Defence Force.’ The Defence Force are always very willing to participate, it must be said. And they have done an extraordinary job and will continue to do so. But the Review indicates that there's a need to consider the broader issues in that context.
 
JOURNALIST: The Review says, as I understand it, that there isn't enough work currently for the Henderson precinct but it also calls on the Government to step in and make sure the dry dock project happens. How do you reconcile those two things? And could you also talk about the challenge in workforce, both uniformed and in defence industry? Is that something that's going to be able to be filled by migration?
 
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: I might deal with the last question first and then throw to Pat to speak about Henderson. In terms of workforce, it is one of the real challenges that we face both in terms of our uniformed workforce and also those in the department, but also, those within defence industry. And we've articulated this in the context of building a capacity to build nuclear powered submarines in this country, that having the requisite number of skilled people to do that is, perhaps, the biggest challenge we have in relation to that. That's why one of the six priorities that we are focusing on coming out of the DSR is around both the growth and the retention of our Defence Force personnel. You made the comment in your question in respect of immigration. One of the unique features of this sector, both in terms of those who wear our nation's uniform, who serve in the department, but also those who work in defence industry, is that we really need citizens to be doing that work from the point of view of our security requirements. And so that adds to the challenge, and we completely understand the training that is going to be required here. And that's why we announced an academy when we announced the submarines last month. It's why we're working on the taskforce with the South Australian Government around having the required number of people. It's why we've made an announcement about having 180,000 fee-free places within our TAFE system. All of this is about making sure that we’re training the people that we need to, to do the very significant job at hand.
 
MINISTER CONROY: On the Deputy Prime Minister's last point, as part of the AUKUS announcement, we allocated $3 billion over the forward estimates and $30 billion over the life of the program on industrial uplift, including training Australians. We will actually train Australians to work in our shipyards. On the question around the Henderson dockyard, this points to the mismanagement and bungling of the last Government around the offshore patrol vessel, where they awarded the contract to Luerssen, they then instructed Luerssen to negotiate with another shipbuilder who lost the contract to try and include them in the supply chain. That led to very significant delays in the OPV. At the Henderson precinct, we have one shipbuilder who has a contract but not a lot of workers. And we’ve got another shipbuilder who’s got a lot of workers but not a contract. And so the DSR rightly says, the Federal Government has to lead a conversation about how we consolidate at Henderson so that we have our continuous shipbuilding, where at Osborne in Adelaide, you have large vessels, frigates and destroyers built on a continuous basis to maintain the workforce and the national capacity and minor war vessels, patrol boats and other smaller vessels, built in Henderson with a continuous workforce that is a national asset. And that's what we'll deliver through an updated naval shipbuilding plan that will also canvass the dry dock issue later this year.
 
JOURNALIST: We’ve heard a lot about we don't have a 10-year lead time, given that we have cyber-attacks, more grey zone warfare possibilities and economic coercion, are we looking at a lead time that can be measured in days or weeks? And Mr Marles, given that there’s a greater focus on operating from northern Australia, what’s the future of the Port of Darwin?
 
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, the Port of Darwin has its own process, which has been actually managed through the Department of PM&C. And so I'll leave the response to that process when it is ultimately concluded. I mean, we do live in a world, you’ve rightly observed, where there is much greater grey zone activity. The DSR talks about the need for us to have capability across the five domains, one of which is now cyber. So we don't think now in terms of just land, air and sea, but we now think about cyber and space as well. And there are important steps that we are taking about making sure that we have the most robust cyber capability possible. And again, you rightly observe, as we have seen, we can see that cyber-attacks happen within our economy with no notice. And the boundary between state actors and crime has become very grey indeed. And so, it's a critical capability and it's one that we see as very important in terms of our future defence capabilities.
 
JOURNALIST: On acquisitions, the Review talks about Defence being too focused on being perfect, and not prepared to take more risk and that it should take more risk. From the outside, it doesn't look perfect now, the processes don't look perfect, the outcomes don't look perfect. So what is going to change in practical terms to shorten those timeframes because the word 'urgent' comes up a lot, and improve the outcomes without ending up leaning too far towards risk?
 
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well I might give a start to that question and then ask Minister Conroy to add. I think it really is important that as we engage in the acquisition process, we have time as a critical factor in terms of how quickly we can get a capability into operation, and that is a factor which is just as important as the extent of the capability. In other words, what the DSR is observing is that in the past, the pursuit of the perfect has often been done at the expense of time, and there is an opportunity cost and a capability cost associated with that. So we need to re-balance that. It's also important, I think, that we change our relationship with risk in order to get capabilities online quicker, we do need to be taking more or accepting more risk in the process of engaging in procurement. Now we're really aware of the legacy in a sense that we have from those who have been operating in this space in the years past, and Defence Ministers have stood up here and talked about the fact that we need a more nimble and quicker procurement process, and in a sense, we're doing the same today. The one point I'd simply make is this – that in order to meet the moment, in order to meet the circumstances and the sense of urgency, which is described in the DSR and by the Government's statement today, we simply have to speed up our capability process.
 
MINISTER CONROY: Three quick points. One, as the Deputy Prime Minister alluded to, you're looking at a shift in paradigm towards what's called minimum viable capability. So instead of trying for the perfect, instead of refusing to accept into service a capability until it’s at 100 per cent of what is contracted, we are engaging in an iterative process where a platform might be at 80 per cent of what is contracted and that 80 per cent is still a lot better than what they’re currently using, we will accept it into service and improve it steadily through upgrades as you'd expect. So the ADF gets their equipment quicker, they can use it where they need to, and we involve the upgrade process to deliver on what's been promised. That's a very different approach, but it reflects the change in our strategic circumstances and lessons, where a lot of projects have gone into trouble trying for that final 10 per cent of capability. The second point I'll make is we have to be a lot smarter about acquisition strategy. We're running competitions now where it's very clear who is going to win that contract. We're running artificial competitions that wastes industry time, wastes industry dollars and defence dollars. We can ensure value for money for the Commonwealth through smart contracting methods but being much more aggressive around sole source, where it’s a like for like replacement or it’s strategically complex. So it’s about smarter contracting strategy. And thirdly, it's about better procurement management. The DPM and I announced six significant reforms to procurement in October last year, really targeted at some of those really high profile, complex projects, particularly around projects of concern. Bringing everyone together to solve problems quickly rather than ignoring them. To give you an example, the last Government had six ministerial projects of concern summits in nine years. Six in nine years. I've had two in nine months to get projects back on track, to provide ministerial energy. So those three reforms are critical to addressing the issues that you canvassed.
 
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you mentioned the need for greater self-reliance and you also said that we can’t just rely on old assumptions. What is your assessment of, in the decades ahead, the US's reliability as an ally, and whether there's any risk of isolationism growing in the decades ahead?
 
PRIME MINISTER: The US remains an important ally. It's a relationship between nations, it's a relationship between peoples and it's based upon our common values.
 
JOURNALIST: This is probably best directed to the Defence Minister, but are we talking tens of thousands of additional people in uniform that you need to convince to join the Defence Forces? And given the impacts of Iraq and Afghanistan and the Veterans Suicide Royal Commission, how can you assure people that the culture is right for people to choose that as their career?
 
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well I actually think that there is an excellent culture within Defence. And to be honest, one of the privileges that we've all had in being able to work closely with the Defence Force is to experience what I think is the best expression of team that I have come across. And I think it is about telling that story to the Australian people and to young people in particular about the opportunities available for them in being a part of that team, and in serving our nation by wearing our nation's uniform, and the skills that are acquired through having the experience of working in our Defence Force. It really is a great career. But we are going to need to encourage thousands of more people to take up this opportunity over, you know, a significant period of time. I mean, the current glide path that the former Government articulated was over the next two decades, but it is right that we have a challenge right now in terms of maintaining the levels in the Defence Force that we've got right now, because since the former Government announced the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, we've actually seen the Defence Force go backwards, and that's not acceptable. So I think it is about making it clear that there is a great opportunity in serving in our nation's uniform. We have measures which we will be articulating in the lead-up to the Budget about how we make that more attractive to people who want to serve. But I think, fundamentally, it is about actually explaining how extraordinary it is to have the privilege of working in Australia's team.
 
JOURNALIST: There's a real focus on this in northern Australia and enhancing both our offensive and defensive capabilities up there. Is northern Australia currently vulnerable? And is that our weak point of national defence at the moment?
 
PRIME MINISTER: I think it's fair to say that one of the themes of the Review is, I certainly wouldn't characterise it the way that you do, but that we need to strengthen our northern bases. And common sense tells you that that’s the case. So that's a theme. It's something that the Government is very conscious of, and in our response to the review, that will be something that is undoubtedly a focus.
 
DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: We talk, as I said in my opening, about the need to have a Defence Force which has the capacity to project and to have impactful projection. And it's really in that context that we see, and the Review observes, that our northern bases are a huge asset and a huge opportunity. That's the place from which we can project. And so it's really seeing it through that light and making sure that we are investing properly in those bases so that we can have a Defence Force which is more able to operate from them.
 
JOURNALIST: Just a follow-up to Phil's question. Is a federal civilian natural disaster agency still on the table to ensure the ADF is a true last resort? Or is it better cooperation with the states that's the preference?
 
PRIME MINISTER: We've got a pretty big announcement today. I think this will do for today, frankly. We're dealing with it pretty comprehensively and this is what we're dealing with today.
 
JOURNALIST: But it’s not a new idea, so you might have a preference?
 
PRIME MINISTER: You get one question, Paul.
 
JOURNALIST: It's the same question.
 
PRIME MINISTER: You mightn’t like the answer Paul, but come tomorrow, there’ll be an Anzac Day event. Wednesday there’ll be another event. If you come to National Cabinet on Friday, you'll see other events as well. What we're doing today is the Defence Strategic Review.
 
JOURNALIST: Probably best directed to Minister Conroy, given he's in charge of the Land 400 tender. What is now the timeframe for making a decision on that? And it looks like the criticism around procurement and things like Australian industry content requirements, the need to buy more stuff off the shelf, it looks like it’s a pretty good day if you're an American arms company, not so good if you're an Australian contractor?
 
MINISTER CONROY: On your latter point, I reject that characterisation. Australian industry produce plenty of off-the-shelf products that are already in service in the ADF that are doing great service. What we've been saying is that we need to be very clear about our acquisition strategy for projects. Some will be developmental, some will be off the shelf. And we need to be very clear about that, because a lot of projects that have been characterised as off-the-shelf in the past were developmental and that's why they got into trouble. On Land 400, I've consulted and briefed the governments of the two countries involved, the Republic of Korea and Germany, and spoken to leaders from the two companies who were the short-listed tenders. The process from now on is that Defence will touch base with them and will come back with revised pricing for 129 infantry fighting vehicles and then the Government will make a decision going forward. But importantly, an infantry fighting vehicle capability is an important part of a modern Australian Army. But we also need the capacity to deploy them, and why's why we're investing in landing craft, medium and heavy, and investing in a generational change in long range strike for the Australian Army as well.
 
JOURNALIST: Just on the Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator. The Review notes that it should be an unencumbered entity outside of Defence. What’s the Government's position on this? And can we also confirm that that’s a renaming of the Advanced Strategic Research Agency?
 
MINISTER CONROY: It is a renaming of that other body. We're really focused on getting this organisation up and running as quickly as possible. And that's driven the structure that we’ve chosen for it. But ASCA will be critical in driving defence innovation, in providing opportunities for Australian-based companies to provide technical solutions to challenges that the ADF is seeing in the field right now or over the next decade. But you can expect further announcements on that.
 
JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, over the first year of your Government, you've announced a lot of new measures to boost manufacturing across a wide area of areas. So from energy to industry, now defence and eventually we’re going to need to start building subs as well. Are you concerned that that might be too much of an ambitious blueprint to boost Australian manufacturing? Do you think we have the workers to fill all of those vacancies?
 
PRIME MINISTER: Not at all. I think that one of the themes of my campaign for election as Prime Minister in the lead-up to 2022, I had five themes that I ran over and over again at the National Press Club and in most press conferences. One of them was A Future Made in Australia. And one of the lessons of the pandemic, as well as the international context in which we're talking about today with strategic competition, is we need to be more resilient. We need to have greater control over our national sovereignty. So not only is manufacturing things in Australia good for jobs and good for our economy, it is also a national security issue. We're vulnerable if we're just at the end of global supply chains, and we can see that across so many areas, whether it be in defence and to go to the point that Andrew's question raised, I think not only Australian defence manufacturers are capable of building things for us. What we've seen is that their international reputation is outstanding. And they have an opportunity not just to make things for us, but to export as well. So whether it’s energy, whether it's pharmaceuticals, whether it's advanced manufacturing capabilities through our National Reconstruction Fund is there in this context. We have a plan for our economy. It's a plan that's about growth and about jobs. A plan that's about using the cheaper and cleaner energy to drive advanced manufacturing in this country, so that we're more resilient going forward. And part of that, part of what we're dealing with here in terms of this Review as well is that there will be a lot of analysis about expenditure and some reprioritisations. If you're making more things here, you're actually then contributing through revenue measures, through people paying taxes who are employed, through businesses paying taxes. You're generating economic activity here as well. So that's then able to help assist with the reinvestment that will be required for what we're talking about, which is for the increased expenditure that will be required over a period of time. So I'm really confident, not just that we will be able to do it, but we'll be able to do it well. This is, I think, a fantastic document and that's a good opportunity perhaps to end today on. Thanks very much.

ENDS

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