The Abbott Government has delivered a budget of cuts, uncertainty, and broken promises for defence, Federal Labor said today.
The Coalition’s plans to cut civilian Defence staff by at least 2000 positions will hurt the overall capability of the Australian Defence Force.
It will erode essential support in intelligence, and scientific and technical know-how.
These massive cuts to civilian Defence staff will be felt by the entire ADF.
The Abbott Government is responsible for creating uncertainty in the defence portfolio.
This Budget is completely silent on the Defence Guidance Period – the six years beyond the forward estimates - to which Federal Labor committed $220 billion.
The ADF and the defence industry will have to wait until at least 2015 before this guidance will be released.
The Abbott Government has also failed to do anything to bridge the valley of death.
It is sitting on its hands, putting thousands of highly skilled manufacturing jobs and Australia’s strategically important ship building industry at risk.
No one can predict every threat or every future conflict. But we do know that as an island nation, ship building is a strategic asset that we can’t let wither and die.
The Abbott Government has made no commitment to the future of the Defence Materiel Organisation.
This lack of clarity may mean thousands more Defence jobs are at risk of being cut.
The DMO plays an important role in making sure the ADF gets the capability they need and that taxpayers get value for money.
At a time when the ADF is acquiring critical future capabilities like the Joint Strike Fighters, the DMO is more important than ever.
The looming privatisation of Defence Housing Australia also means uncertainty for ADF personnel and their families, who rely on DHA as an efficient and responsive provider of secure housing.
When the Abbott Government is not cutting jobs or creating uncertainty in defence, it is breaking promises.
Before the election, the Abbott Government promised that there would be no adverse changes to superannuation.
But the Government has gone back on its word, cutting the Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme for ADF recruits.
This broken promise is a double edged sword – it fails to acknowledge the unique nature of military service and it will make it harder for the ADF to attract new talent.
It is time the Defence Minister stood up for ADF personnel and started keeping his promises to the Australian people.
This Budget is a breach of trust and shows that defence hasn’t been quarantined from the broken promises of the Abbott Government.