Standing up for Canberra

Budget test for Defence Minister – no more broken promises

The Abbott Government must substantially increase defence funding in the upcoming budget or it will represent another broken promise, Federal Labor said today.

Before the election, Tony Abbott promised to increase the defence budget to two percent of GDP within a decade. The Australian Strategic Policy Institute has said that achieving this promise would require an annual real rate of growth of around 5 per cent each year over the next 10 years, or around $35 billion dollars. “The upcoming budget is a credibility test for the Abbott Government and the Defence Minister,” said Shadow Minister for Defence, Senator Stephen Conroy. “The Abbott Government must make meaningful and significant progress towards increasing defence funding to two per cent of GDP or it will be another broken promise. “The Defence Minister has already broken his pre-election promise to build 12 future submarines in South Australia and this one could be next. “The first act of the Abbott Government in the Defence portfolio was to cut the pay and conditions of ADF personnel serving in Afghanistan and the Middle East. “It is time the Minister stood up for ADF personnel and started keeping his promises to the Australian people.” Federal Labor is also calling on the Government to use the budget to provide greater certainty to the ADF and the defence industry, with:

  1. Clear action to bridge the Valley of Death, ensuring our Navy’s supply ships are upgraded and that Australia’s strategically vital ship building industry is not shut down, taking thousands of jobs with it.

  2. No cuts, delays, or deferments to important Australian Defence Force equipment upgrade programs, such as Land 400.

  3. No gutting of the Defence Materiel Organisation, which ensures the ADF get the capability and kit they need and taxpayers get value for money; and no slashing of civilian defence jobs, which are highly skilled, highly specialised and vital to the overall capability of the ADF.

  4. No outsourcing the important work of the Defence Science and Technology Organisation, which engages in sensitive and important research.

  5. No adverse changes to superannuation for current or future ADF personnel.

In the last budget, Federal Labor committed $114 billion in defence spending over the forward estimates and $220 billion during the defence guidance period for the following six years. This has ensured funding for critical capability acquisitions, including the recent decisions to purchase an additional 58 F-35 Joint Strike Fighters, the Triton Unmanned Aerial Vehicles and eight P-8A Poseidon maritime surveillance aircraft.