DOCUMENTS - Defence Procurement - Order for the Production of Documents


Senator IAN MACDONALD (Queensland) (15:44): I thank Senator Payne for her statement today and for the documents she may have tabled. The nation is particularly fortunate to have a Minister for Defence with the style, capability and energy of Senator Payne. We are doubly fortunate in that we have Mr Pyne as Minister for Defence Industry. I can understand the concern of the Labor Party in nit-picking any little hole all the way, because during the six-year term of the Labor government they did absolutely nothing with defence procurement. There wasn't a ship build in sight under Labor. I can understand why Senator Carr wants to divert attention away from this government's great success in building, designing and launching military hardware within our country.

Senator Patrick indicates that he was an adviser to Senator Xenophon. He was also an adviser to a Liberal minister for defence, and I sometimes wonder about the source of some of Senator Patrick's knowledge. Senator Patrick made a long speech full of accusations and assumptions, not of fact. There was not one fact in them, just accusations and assumptions, mainly against public servants who aren't here and aren't capable of answering for themselves. It's typical that, when these facts are pointed out, both Senator Patrick and Senator Carr, who each had 20 minutes of accusations and assumptions—no facts—about a government that does something in the military construction area, they walk out of the debate.

Those who might be listening to this on radio should understand that what you've just heard in the last 40 minutes from Senator Patrick and Senator Carr is purely crass politics and has nothing to do with integrity or our military support. I won't go into the actual details; I hope and think that my colleague, Senator Fawcett, who is an expert in this area and a South Australian, will deal with some of the fallacies he may have heard in the previous two speeches. I just want to say how very fortunate Australia is to have defence ministers—two of them—and a government prepared to do something about construction of defence hardware. Labor continues to argue about and criticise the construction of ships. I again mention that Labor, in the six years it was in power in this country, did absolutely nothing about getting some ships built in Australia.

Ninety billion dollars has been allocated by this government for military hardware, most of which will be constructed within Australia. It will be done principally for our defence forces to ensure we can properly defend Australia, but it's important that most of that work will be done within Australia by Australian workers. You know where Senator Carr is coming from when, shortly into his speech, he starts telling you what the unions had told him to say about this. It's the old Labor approach, because they are entirely controlled by the union movement. When the unions ask Senator Carr to jump, he always says, 'How high?' He wasn't speaking in the interests of Australia or the integrity of the Senate, as he pretended he was; he was talking about the interests of the union movement in Australia, to which Senator Carr and most of his colleagues over there are entirely beholden.

I again thank Senator Payne and Mr Pyne for what they have done. I cannot understand why people like Senator Carr and Senator Patrick spend all of their time here criticising work that every other Australian says is just wonderful. We have this work in Australia. It's the first time for a long time. More than that—digressing slightly from shipbuilding—I'm from Queensland, and Senator Payne, in answering a question in the Senate yesterday, pointed out that 80 per cent of the work being done in the Central Queensland area, at Shoalwater Bay, for Australia's military training field is being done by local Central Queensland contractors.

That has been the whole direction of this government. Yes, we need these things done for the defence of our country and to make sure our military is properly equipped but, at the same time, we are doing it in a way that creates wealth and jobs for Australians. I can only congratulate the government, and I simply cannot understand the Senator Patricks and the Senator Carrs of this world who continually try to take down the wonderful work that is being done by this government—work which the Labor Party was never prepared to do.

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