State Growth Minister not enough for defence contracts

How can Tasmania expect to win lucrative defence contracts without a dedicated defence minister working on procurement? Independent Senator for Tasmania Jacqui Lambie has asked.

Senator Lambie recently sent a letter to Tasmanian Premier Will Hodgman suggesting the creation of an experienced state defence minister to pour their energies into defence procurement.

The Honourable Will Hodgman responded this week, stating he didn’t believe it was necessary as the State Growth Minister was responsible for pursuing such opportunities.

But Senator Lambie said a state growth minister cannot dedicate the time necessary to compete with South Australia, a state that wins the majority of the defence contracts and has a long history and experience in this area.

``How does the state government expect Mr Groom to split his attention across several portfolios and chase several opportunities and but remain competition for South Australia - the only state with a dedicated minister pouring his energies into realising opportunities for the state he represents.

``My question to State Growth Minister Matthew Groom is what have you done so far to secure defence contracts for Tasmania? What experience do you have that inspires confidence in the defence industry, manufacturers and Tasmanians?

``The Liberal government and the previous Labor government were well aware of the manufacturing industry’s intention to outsource their workforce for many years.

Why didn’t either government prepare for the loss of the manufacturing industry by propping it up with another industry, such as defence contracts?

The wheels should have been put in motion years ago and the government realises that now, they will tell you they are forming relationships with the Department of Defence and putting in a bid for the Pacific Patrol Boat project – and good on them.

But it’s a little late to be chasing tails now.

But Tasmania can make up time by being the second Australian state or territory with a dedicated defence minister.

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