QWN - Defence Procurement

Defence Procurement

Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:36): My question without notice is to the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. I refer the minister to her government's $450 billion defence white paper and the fact that Tasmania's businesses have been ignored for two decades when it comes to the fair awarding of defence contracts. I also refer the minister to comments made by Tasmanian businessman Michael Grainger, of Liferaft Systems Australia, who says:

It is ironic that we are dealing with the major defence forces around the world but not our own country

When it comes to the fair awarding of defence contracts, does the minister agree that it is the weak representation by Liberal members of this parliament for 20 years and being taken for granted that has guaranteed Tasmanian businesses, including those associated with Land 400, will continue to be ignored for another 20 years? How are you going over there Senator Abetz?

 Senator PAYNE (New South Wales—Minister for Defence) (14:37): I thank Senator Lambie for her question. It will not surprise Senator Lambie to know that I do not agree with the premise of her question and her observations in relation to my extremely valued Senate colleagues. The exact idea behind the Defence Industry Policy Statement, which will be a bible, if you like, for those who are engaged in the defence industry across Australia—in particular for leading Tasmanian businesses, a number of which have already been drawn to my attention by our parliamentary colleagues from Tasmania—is that they will be able to work within the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement, which sets a new paradigm for the relationship between Defence and industry across Australia, in regional areas and around the nation, for small, medium and large enterprises.

There are over 3,000 defence related industries in Australia. A number of those are located in Tasmania. A number of those are referred to in the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement. I look forward to working with all members of the parliament who represent Tasmania to make the most of those relationships and to maximise the possible contribution of those industries to engagement with Defence.

 Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:38): Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. I refer the minister to her reply. Does the minister agree that the only chance for Tasmanian defence businesses to receive a fair share of her government's $450 billion defence budget is if Tasmania becomes a marginal electorate for major parties and is represented in the Senate by Independents?

Senator PAYNE (New South Wales—Minister for Defence) (14:39): No, I do not agree with Senator Lambie.

 Senator LAMBIE (Tasmania) (14:39): Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. I refer the Defence minister to her government's $450 billion defence white paper, Tasmania's record youth unemployment rate and Australia's trade skills shortage. Does the minister agree that, should her government have the vision to re- establish the defence apprenticeship and trade training programs as part of voluntary youth national service, then those training positions would offer hope to our unemployed youth while strengthening the defence of our nation?

 Senator PAYNE (New South Wales—Minister for Defence) (14:39): Senator Lambie and I are not as one on the question of national service, but there are certainly some aspects of that question with which I strongly agree, which is to say—and I have discussed this matter with the Minister for Education—there are going to be enormous opportunities for training and for growth in the working environment for people who wish to engage in defence industries. One of the important parts that is referred to the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement

—in fact, Senator Sinodinos just referred to it in his response to Senator Edwards's question—is in relation to the Centre for Defence Industry Capability. It will have a significant role in working with primes and medium and small enterprise in the defence space to bring all of that together. I look forward to working with companies

like the two companies in Tasmania that are referred to in the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement, Taylor Bros and Delta Hydraulics, in making sure that they are well placed to participate in defence industry into the future as we ensure the strength of our defence industry going forward.