Standing up for Canberra

Two years of an Abbott Government

Monday marked two years of this Abbott government—this government that has broken promise after promise and has delivered cut after cut; this government that has no vision for this country, creating uncertainty and chaos across almost every portfolio. That is certainly the case in the Defence portfolio. Before the 2013 election, then shadow defence minister David Johnston promised to build Australia's new submarine fleet in Adelaide.

It is two years on and the Abbott government still will not commit to building our Future Submarines in Australia. While we wait, more than 1,000 jobs have been lost from Australia's strategically vital shipbuilding industry already and thousands more jobs are at risk.

Over the past two years, we have also seen an appalling attack on the Australian Defence Force pay and conditions —attacks that I fought tooth and nail against. Thankfully for the ADF personnel, the government reversed its unfair decision to cut their wages and conditions. But the government is still pushing ahead with its campaign to cut the pay and conditions of staff at the Department of Defence. 

That, of course, comes after more than 2,400 jobs were cut from the department. Civilian Defence personnel are some of the most highly trained and highly skilled workers, and now they are facing another round of cuts after a redundancy round for EL1- to SES-level staff was announced on Monday. Targeting senior civilian Defence personnel is short-sighted and may also result in higher project costs and schedule overruns, as well as have a huge impact on workplace morale. These public servants are vital to the overall success of our military operations and capability, and more job losses have the potential to significantly erode capability. They are the force behind the force.

The list of this government's broken promises and cuts goes on and on. We have seen a reduction in Paid Parental Leave that will result in female Defence personnel losing 18 weeks of paid leave with their newborn baby. It is not just public servants, as the Prime Minister and the Minister for Social Services would have you believe. No, their unfair cuts to Paid Parental Leave will affect anyone on an employer funded scheme and make them worse off. That includes public servants, but it also includes Australian Defence Force and Australian Federal Police personnel, teachers, nurses and private sector workers.

We have also seen Defence families placed under unnecessary stress, for more than a year, following the on-again off-again sale of Defence Housing Australia. We have heard the former Defence minister degrade the ASC by saying he would not trust the workers there to 'build a canoe'. The Abbott government has an appalling track record when it comes to Defence over the last two years, in terms of cuts to jobs, cuts to wages and conditions, and cuts to security and certainty.

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