Today marks the one month anniversary since Tony Abbott’s Cabinet reshuffle which saw David Johnston dumped as Defence Minister and Kevin - ‘no interest in defence’ - Andrews parachuted into the position.
This reshuffle has caused nothing but further delays to defence industry policy, where workers in our shipbuilding industry are facing up to 1400 job losses due to the inaction of this dysfunctional Government.
Labor has concerns this reshuffle will cause a delay in the delivery of the next Defence White Paper due in March, causing a domino effect and delaying decisions regarding important future defence acquisitions.
Decisions regarding Australia’s LAND 400 and SEA 5000 projects, which will replace our Army’s Armoured Vehicles and our Navy’s Frigates, are still yet to be made, leaving uncertainty surrounding jobs, and with industry frustrated over the lack of progress.
Under Labor, first pass approval for LAND 400 was scheduled for March-April 2014 and included two, linked phases for combat reconnaissance and infantry fighting vehicles.
Labor had a plan to bridge the ‘valley of death’, by bringing forward the purchase of new Supply Ships and Patrol Boats, as well as the Future Frigates which were to be built here in Australia.
The Abbott Government’s only Defence industry plan is to send Australian jobs overseas.
For the past 16 months, Defence has been riddled with confusion and broken promises, as well as chaotic interference by the Prime Minister’s Office (PMO), particularly when it comes to Australia's Future Submarine Project.
This project is one of the largest defence acquisitions the Commonwealth will make, with jobs and skills relying on decisions to be made.
Expert after expert has told the Senate that there is enough time to hold a proper tender process, in a timeframe that ensures no capability gap and with value for money for taxpayers.
After a month, we have still not had any confirmation from the new Minister that he will support a competitive tender for our submarines.
Kevin Andrews has also done nothing to rectify the harsh and unfair pay deal for our service men and women.
Labor, independent Senators, community activists, and Defence support groups have all pressured the Prime Minister over this unfair offer.
The Defence community wants a Minister who represents their needs, and who will stand up for them.
It’s time for Kevin Andrews to take control of his portfolio and take action on these matters of critical importance.