One year of the Abbott Government: cuts, uncertainty and broken promises on Defence

The Abbott Government’s first twelve months has delivered cuts, uncertainty, and broken promises for defence, Federal Labor said today.

The Coalition’s unfair Budget included plans to cut civilian Defence staff by more than 2,400 positions, hurting the overall capability of the Australian Defence Force.

These cuts are set to erode essential support in intelligence, and scientific and technical know-how.

The Abbott Government has also overseen uncertainty and broken promises in defence, particularly when it comes to the submarine and shipbuilding industries.

Before the election, the Defence Minister said he would build Australia’s Future Submarines in South Australia:

“We will deliver those submarines from right here at ASC in South Australia. The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide." (David Johnston – Press Conference – 8 May 2013)

The Government has refused to recommit to this promise since the election and it is clear from its public statements that the Coalition plans to buy Australia’s new submarines from overseas.

On shipbuilding, the Abbott Government has done nothing to help bridge the valley of death, putting thousands of highly skilled manufacturing jobs and Australia’s strategically important ship building industry at risk.

In fact, it has deliberately excluded Australian companies from tendering to build two new Royal Australian Navy supply ships.

This decision has been condemned by a Senate Inquiry and is another broken promise.

Before the election, Defence Minister David Johnston told the ABC in Newcastle:

“I get really fired up when I find us giving away our manufacturing base in the Defence space to foreign manufacturers, it’s just not on.” (David Johnston – ABC Newcastle – 9 August 2013)

Yet that is exactly what the Abbott Government has done by exporting the work on the new supply ships to Spain or Korea.

Before the election, the Coalition also promised that there would be “no adverse changes to superannuation”.

But the Government has gone back on its word by closing the Military Superannuation and Benefits Scheme to new entrants.

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 Abbott Government stood up for ADF personnel and started keeping its promises to the Australian people.

For more information about the Abbott Government’s broken promises visit: www.abbottslies.com.au

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