Television interview, Sky News First Edition

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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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26 April 2023

SUBJECTS: Defence Strategic Review, US presidential election.

PETER STEFANOVIC, HOST: Let's go to the Defence Minister, Richard Marles. Big week for you, Richard Marles, hope you're well. Thanks for joining us this morning.

So, out today, $4 billion set aside to acquire long-range strike systems. When will we actually see them in the field?

RICHARD MARLES, DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER: Well, what this will enable us to do is actually seriously get on with the business of manufacturing missiles in Australia. We're more than doubling what has been provided for in terms of local manufacture. So whereas what we inherited was the prospect of maybe manufacturing in 2027, we really believe that we can bring that forward such that we would be manufacturing these missiles within the next couple of years. And there's additional money in this for the purchase of systems which, again, we hope will have a potent capability within use in the next couple of years.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, so I'll get to that in a second. So just for long-range strike weapons, you believe just within a few years they will be operational in Australia?

MARLES: Yes. And this dramatically changes what we can do right now, because right now our Army can project a missile about 40 kilometres – or a piece of ordinance about 40 kilometres. What we're now talking about is having a strike capability when this is in place of 300 and in time beyond 500 kilometres. And that is a radical change to the strike and the projection capability of our army.

STEFANOVIC: So to get more specific than a couple, you're saying what, 2025? Have you got anything more solid on that?

MARLES: Well, what we inherited was the prospect of manufacturing in 2027. We are going to work with Raytheon, with Lockheed, the two really big manufacturers of missiles in the world, to bring that forward considerably. And with the money that we now have on the table as a result of today's announcement, we're confident that we can start the process of manufacturing much sooner than that. And in terms of the purchase of HIMARS, we announced in January the purchase of HIMARS. The announcement that we're making today effectively doubles the number of HIMARS systems that we will be purchasing. And we believe that we will have a potent capability in play within the next couple of years.

STEFANOVIC: So have you got a solid year, though? Are you willing to set that aside? Is it 2025? Mid 2025? Start of 2025?

MARLES: I mean, I've said what I've said. What I think we’ve seen a lot in this space –

STEFANOVIC: Just vague though, I’m just trying to narrow down something.

MARLES: I get it. We've seen heroic projections from the former government. What we are doing today is putting real money behind gaining a capability that we are aiming to do – aiming to have a potent capability within the next couple of years. And we are confident that we can do that. We are doubling the number of HIMARS systems that, as a result of today's announcement, building on the announcement that we made in January in relation to that, and at time, we also will be acquiring precision strike missiles which gives a capability of striking beyond 500 kilometres and targets that are more mobile –

STEFANOVIC: When will we have those, those precision strike missiles?

MARLES: Well, again, this is a missile which is being jointly developed by ourselves and the United States. Again, within a short number of years we hope to be in a position of having the first iteration of those in place. I'm not going to give you the specific year, but we are really confident that we are going to be able to have this in play very soon.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, just a final one here before we go. I know we are squeezed for time. PBS, big changes for medicine. You'd be able to get two months worth instead of one month. Just how helpful is that going to be for folks Richard? Just changing topic completely.

MARLES: Well, it's going to be really helpful. I mean, for those who have chronic conditions, who use a lot of medication, this means that they can get a two month script. We expect that for some households it's $180 a year difference saving that will come as a result of the measure that we've been putting in place today. And that's because our focus is always on the consumers. It builds on the decision that we made last year which saw cheaper medicines come into play from the first of January this year. This measure that we're announcing today will come into place in September of this year and together it represents the significant reduction in the bills that people face who use medication in a significant way. And that's a big win for family household budgets.

STEFANOVIC: Okay, Richard Marles, we'll leave it there. Appreciate your time. Talk to you again soon.



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