STEPHEN SMITH: Thanks very much for turning up. We’re here with the United Kingdom Secretary of State for Defence, Liam Fox. I’m also very pleased to be with the Premier of South Australia, Mike Rann, and also joined by my colleague, the Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, Warren Snowdon.
Firstly, can I make some remarks about Dr Fox’s visit to Australia. Yesterday we had a very successful AUKMIN ministerial meeting, the third AUKMIN meeting and the first that we’ve had in Australia. We welcome very much the successful outcome of that ministerial meeting.
Dr Fox and I were keen to come to South Australia because South Australia is, of course, very important to our Defence industry, our Defence procurement and our Defence capability. One of the things that we spoke about yesterday was we all live now in the defence arena in a time of tight fiscal restraint, and we need to make sure that the things that we do in terms of Defence procurement and Defence capability and Defence assets give taxpayers and nations value for money and value for effort.
We believe there is potential for Australia and the United Kingdom to work together on Defence capability procurement issues.
Earlier today, we visited the Defence Science and Technology Organisation. There is already very strong collaboration in the Defence science area between Australia and the United Kingdom, and we believe that that can be enhanced as well.
Yesterday, I also indicated publicly that given changed arrangements to some of the use of assets in the United Kingdom, that I was interested in talking to Dr Fox about Australia possibly acquiring, either purchase or leasing, an amphibious landing vessel, a Bay class vessel.
Dr Fox and I have agreed that our officials will now pursue that matter to see whether it’s appropriate for Australia to add to its amphibious landing vessel and loading dock fleet by either leasing or acquiring such a Bay class vessel from the United Kingdom.
More generally, in terms of South Australian Defence industry, we’re here at BAE, our largest defence industry contractor and we’re off to ASC to see the work they’re doing for naval assets. As a rule of thumb, Defence industry and Defence capability brings to the South Australian economy over $1 billion a year.
In addition to that and any other future work that comes South Australia’s way, the arrival of 7RAR from Darwin to Adelaide will effectively bring an additional thousand personnel with families, and probably about 1800 to 1900 additional Defence personnel and families to Adelaide and South Australia.
That will also be not just a good additional Defence presence in South Australia, but also a good boost to the South Australian economy.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,