Question Time – National Security & Defence
16 Feb | '2022
Ms BELL (Moncrieff) (14:50): My question is to the Minister for Defence. Will the minister update the House on
steps the Morrison government is taking to safeguard Australia amid a deteriorating global security environment
by working with strategic partners and allies, and is the minister aware of any alternative approaches?
Mr DUTTON (Dickson—Minister for Defence and Leader of the House) (14:50): I thank the honourable
member for her question and acknowledge her own family’s history and contribution to this country and to the
security of this country. The security of this country is more important than ever given, as the dire situation
unfolds in Ukraine, we are seeing in the Indo-Pacific the build-up of missiles and nuclear weapons by the Chinese
government. This is a very serious time, and we as a country need to be in a position of strength to work with
our allies, to invest appropriately and to make sure that we can take the decisions that will allow us to keep our
country safe not only today but in the decades ahead.
This government announced the AUKUS agreement as a key part of the defence of our nation and a very important
part in the deterrence of any aggressor who would seek to take action against Australia. The declaration is a
clear one from our country, from the United Kingdom and from the United States that we stand as one against
aggression and coercion. We don’t believe that the alliance between China and Russia is in the world’s best
interests, and we will continue to take decisions on and make investments in our Australian Defence Force to
keep us safe.
There are many people who opposed AUKUS, and I think it is important for people, when I’m asked about
alternative approaches, to understand the difference between the sides of the House. Our side built up the
investment in Defence after Labor cut it to its lowest level since 1938. We have invested in our relationships.
AUKUS is a result of that. It’s designed specifically to keep our country safe.
People are asking, ‘What would the other side of politics bring if they were elected at the next election?’ It’s a
fair question to ask. If you want to know what an Albanese-Bandt government would do after the next election,
what a Labor-Greens Alliance would do—it’s an important question—
The SPEAKER: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition on a point of order?
Mr Marles: The point of order is on the basis of relevance. Obviously the assertion that has just been made
there is not true and can’t be relevant. The only relevant answer to this question has got to be the failure of this
government on submarines—
The SPEAK ER: The Deputy Leader of the Opposition will resume his seat. The Minister for Defence is being
relevant to the question.
Mr DUTTON: If you ask yourself, ‘Why when in government last time did Labor rip money from the Australian
Defence Force and take it away from our troops?’, in part, it was because of the pressures they put on themselves
through the relationship with the Greens. At least the Greens are honest about taking money from defence before
an election. The Labor Party always do it after the election. They tell you before the election that they are no
different to the coalition, that they will just power on and keep support going. They never do it when they’re
in government. We know that the Greens recently announced their policy in relation to AUKUS. The Greens have announced
today that, if they have a balance of power after the next election—that is, if they are in a coalition—they will
‘push to boldly reform our defence force to ensure a peace focused approach is prioritised’, reduce spending to
one per cent and break the AUKUS agreement—