More negativity from Labor doesn’t help Australia’s naval shipbuilders

Media Release – Thursday, 16 July 2015

Once again, Senator Conroy and his opposition colleagues are more intent on being negative about the future of Australian naval shipbuilding then working with the Government to constructively resolve the mess that Labor has left.

Relying on the speculation of uninformed commentators, Senator Conroy has launched a benign ‘attack’ on the government’s plan for the naval shipbuilding industry.

No matter how many times the Labor party attempt to spin their way through history, they will fail.

The facts are clear:

  • Labor hasn’t commissioned construction of a major naval vessel in an Australian shipyard since the ANZAC class frigates in 1989 (delivered on time and on budget by the Howard Government)
  • The Rudd/Gillard/Rudd Government’s only decisions on major vessels where to purchase HMAS Choules and two major Customs vessels offshore
  • Labor cut $16 billion from Defence – reducing spending as a percentage of GDP to the lowest level since 1938.
  • Under Labor defence spending as a share of GDP dropped to 1.56 per cent in the 2012-13 Budget – the lowest level since 1938.
  • In 2012-13 the Labor government’s 10.5 per cent cut to Defence was the largest single cut since the Korean War.
  • Immediately following its 2009 White Paper, Labor cut or deferred $16 billion from the Defence budget out to 2016-17.
  • Labor’s decisions led to 119 defence projects being delayed, 43 projects being reduced in and eight projects cancelled, risking critical capability gaps.
  • Under Labor the Australian defence industry shed more than 10% of its workforce because of budget cuts and deferrals, procrastination and lack of opportunity for Australian suppliers.

As the Labor Party continue to ‘internally debate’ matters of policy, their clear challenge in Defence is this: Will the Labor Party commit to match the Government’s commitment to increase the Defence budget to 2% of GDP by 2023/24? Or will they do as they did when they were in government and rip apart the Defence budget? 

This Government, on the other hand, is fixing Labor’s defence mess. And we are doing it responsibly:

  • The Coalition has put Defence spending back on a trajectory towards two per cent of GDP.  Defence spending is now on a path for growth.
  • We are working to reduce the impact of ‘Labor’s Valley of Death’ in the Australian naval shipbuilding industry.
  • We are ensuring that Australia obtains the most capable conventional submarines in the world while avoiding a capability gap after the current Collins class submarines.
  • We have a clear pathway for Australian industry to maximise its involvement in the Future Submarine Programme.
  • We have now appointed an Expert Advisory Panel to ensure oversight and probity in the Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process.

The next time Senator Conroy and his colleagues want to speak about these matters, they should check the facts first.