Small business and the Australian Defence Force
11 September, 2018
You have heard the truism many times before: small business is the engine room of the Australian economy. I am proud to be part of a Coalition Government which values and supports the aspirations and hard work of private enterprise. Equally, I am proud to be part of a government which is investing a record $200 billion in the Australian Defence Force's capabilities.
As we on this side of parliament know, increased investment and strategic policy environments drive economic and employment growth. With our government's already record jobs growth achievements, I look forward to the added benefits that will bring.
The Ryan electorate is home to Gallipoli barracks, Australia's second largest Defence base, and is also a short drive from RAAF Amberley and has a large contingent of veterans and retired service men and women. The Ryan electorate is also home to a number of niche businesses, partnering with our defence industry.
The Coalition Government is investing in our defence industry, creating jobs all around Australia. To demonstrate the significance of small to medium enterprise involvement in defence projects, I refer to BAE Systems Australia and their contract to build the nine anti-submarine warfare frigates. BAE have already prequalified more than 550 companies, small and medium enterprises, in their supply chain around Australia. It is a national project, and included in the 550 companies are 57 from Queensland. These are 57 local companies, employing local workers and making a significant contribution to our economy. There are 4,000 jobs directly attributable to the project and in the direct supply chain.
Closer to my electorate of Ryan, I refer to the announcement of Rheinmetall as the successful proponent to deliver Australia's new combat reconnaissance vehicle, the Boxer, for Land 400 phase 2—mounted combat reconnaissance capability. During the 30-year life of the vehicles, Australian industry will deliver two-thirds, or $10.2 billion, of the acquisition and sustainment, which will create up to 1,450 jobs right across Australia.
As a former serviceman himself, Rheinmetall Defence Australia's Managing Director Mr Gary Stewart, a local Ryan resident, understands the importance of the contribution that specialist small and medium businesses have for his company's large defence project.
The Coalition is growing Australia's defence industry, and we are ensuring that companies like Brisbane based Haulmark Trailers will get that work. Haulmark Trailers will build 800 trailers in Brisbane as part of the trucks, trailers and modules contract that was recently announced.
Also consider Varley Group Australia's joint venture with Israel's Rafael for the Spike LR2 fifth-generation missile system, manufactured and supported in Australia for the Land 400 program. We are literally opening doors for Australia's businesses to engage in opportunities never before seen.
I have not mentioned Labor's contribution to Defence during my speech because, well, there's nothing to mention. Under Labor, spending on Defence dropped to 1.56 per cent of GDP, the lowest since 1938, the last year of appeasement. Because of the Coalition's management of the budget and the economy, we will achieve two per cent of GDP in 2020—a year ahead of schedule, a year ahead of what we had promised. It is simply because we are pulling our weight. We want to be a good ally and we want to look after Australia's national interests.
The Leader of the Opposition's war on business is a war on jobs. His war on business is a war on growth and a war on the Australian economy. It is also a war on family businesses and small and medium enterprises, and a war on wages. Significantly, the manufacturing of parts and service offerings of Australia's small businesses not only are for use for our home-grown defence industry but also demonstrate a huge export potential.
Again, investment in industry by the coalition is a core tenet of good economic management and ensures that Australian small businesses have a large, big impact. Australia's defence industry has a range of world-leading capabilities and is well positioned to meet our current and future capability needs. The Coalition Government is ensuring that our ADF, whether it is the Army, the Air Force or the Navy, has the capabilities to keep us safe in the 21st century.
To do this we rely on the skills and expertise of Australian small businesses, and I encourage all of them to explore opportunities to supply their products and services to the ADF. I thank my colleague the member for Fisher for this motion and look forward to working with Queensland counterparts to encourage and grow private sector involvement in the defence industries. I commend this motion to the House.