DOORSTOP INTERVIEW - CANBERRA, 5 OCTOBER 2015
MONDAY, 5 OCTOBER 2015
SUBJECT/S: Hawkei announcement
GAI BRODTMANN, ACTING SHADOW MINISTER FOR DEFENCE: Good afternoon everyone. Thanks for coming on this gorgeous Canberra afternoon. We’ve had exceptional long weekend weather. I’m here to welcome the announcement by the Government on the $1.3 billion investment in the 1100 Hawkei vehicles and 1000 trailers.
But we need to give credit where credit’s due because this announcement builds on a decision and the work that Labor did when we were in Government. We made a $65 million investment in funding for the prototype of the Hawkei, as well as testing. So we made a significant investment because we have considerable faith, significant faith, in the fact that Australian industry has the ability, has the smarts, has the expertise and has the experience to produce world class capability. And the Bushmaster, as you know, is a world class capability. In fact, it’s the envy of the world. It has saved the lives of ADF members and it’s also been exported to a number of countries throughout the world. So as I said, credit where credit is due.
This decision today builds on Labor’s faith in the Australian defence industry, builds on Labor’s acknowledgement that we do have skills, the capability and the smarts and the expertise to produce this world class capability here in Australia. We put our money where our mouth is when we were in Government by making that significant investment in developing the prototype.
I’d also like to take this opportunity to give credit where credit’s due. This decision is thanks to the hard work that has been done over many years by my colleagues and former colleagues. Greg Combet needs to be acknowledged for his commitment on getting an Australian build on this – and also Joel Fitzgibbon. In addition to Joel, Jason Clare and Mike Kelly. And of course the considerable, tenacious work and advocacy of former local Member, Member for Bendigo, Steve Gibbons, as well as the current Member for Bendigo who has been hard at it on this issue since she was elected, Lisa Chesters.
I’m happy to go to questions but before I do that I’d just like to call on the Government to make a commitment – there’s mixed messages going around at the moment as to what this actually means in terms of jobs, local jobs, and what it means in terms of the build. So we are calling on the Government, Labor is calling on the Government, to make a commitment to a complete build here in Australia. A complete build here in Australia and not just assembly. As you know, this project is a partnership between Thales, between Plasan as well as Quickstep, who has come up with some great composite work. So we are calling on the Government to make a commitment for a complete build here in Australia, not just assembly or not just degrees of the build.
We’re also calling on the Government, given the fact that it has acknowledged that we do have the expertise and the smarts and the experience and the ability to build world class Defence capability in Australia, we’re calling on the Government to reverse its decision on the supply ships and to make a commitment to an Australian build on the subs. I’m happy to take questions.
JOURNALIST: Given the Land Rovers are an ageing fleet, why didn’t Labor make this decision while in Government?
BRODTMANN: Well we made that considerable funding into the prototyping on the Hawkei. A significant investment - $65 million - and as I said there was a lot of advocacy work that was done by former Parliamentary Secretaries as well as Assistant Ministers to actually get Thales as part of the mix. So we did considerable work on this and that’s why credit where credit is due.
JOURNALIST: Kevin Andrews, does he deserve credit?
BRODTMANN: Today’s announcement is really fantastic. It’s a great boost for local jobs in the area and again, it acknowledges that we do have the expertise, the smarts, the experience here in Australia to build this world class capability. But I do want to say – credit where credit is due – Labor got the ball rolling on this, we made a significant investment in this and we also, as a result, sent a very strong message about our commitment to Australian industry.
JOURNALIST: Bendigo is a marginal seat, how much was that a factor in this announcement do you think?
BRODTMANN: Look, the expertise was there with the Bushmaster. As I said, the Bushmaster has saved lives. Anyone who has been to Afghanistan has seen that this is a world class capability. It gets nothing but praise from the ADF. But not just from the ADF, it also gets nothing but praise from the international Defence community. The exports speak volumes in the fact that it is a great capability. The beauty about the Bushmaster and the Hawkei is the fact that there’s a number of variants for different missions and so we do have that flexibility within that capability to be able to send them out to different missions. The Hawkei is also a great capability in the fact that it’s very light as a result of the great work that Quickstep’s done in coming up with composite materials. In addition to that we’ve got the great work that Plasan has done in terms of providing that force protection, that vehicle protection.
JOURNALIST: Just on another issue, Nauru announcing that it will process around 600 refugee claims within a week and it’ll make the detention centre an open centre. What’s Labor reaction to that?
BRODTMANN: Well I’ve just heard that report just before I came out here. That’s up to the Shadow Minister for Immigration to make an announcement on this, so I’ll leave it to him.
JOURNALIST: Initially though, 600 people within a week, does Nauru have the capacity to do that, do you think?
BRODTMANN: As I’ve said I’ve just heard it now and I need more information on it. I’ll leave it up to Richard Marles, our Shadow Immigration Minister, to make further statements on that.