Stephen Smith MP Minister for Defence Opening of the Australian International Air Show and Trade Exposition
I thank the Chairman of Aerospace Australia Limited, Air Marshal Les Fisher AO, RAAF (Retired) for his introduction.
I acknowledge Councillor John Mitchell, Mayor of Geelong, Richard Dalla-Riva MLC, Victorian Minister for Employment & Industrial Relations and Minister for Manufacturing, Exports & Trade, my Ministerial colleagues Warren Snowdon, Minister for Defence Personnel and Science and Jason Clare, Minister for Defence Materiel, Mr Stuart Robert, Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, the Chief of the Air Force, Australian Defence Force Personnel, distinguished international guests, ladies and gentlemen.
I also acknowledge and thank the sponsors of the Air Show.
It is a pleasure to join you for the official opening of the Australian International Air Show and Trade Exposition.
This year’s Air Show also coincides with the celebration of 90 years since the formation of the Royal Australian Air Force, a significant milestone.
The Avalon Air Show has a long standing reputation as one of the largest and most comprehensive events of its kind in the Southern Hemisphere.
The Air Show is an opportunity for the public to see the Australian Defence Force’s aircraft types, including aircraft currently supporting military operations and those supporting many Australians and New Zealanders in need during the terrible natural disasters this summer.
This includes RAAF C‑130 Hercules and a United States C‑17A Globemaster III aircraft.
Last night I announced that Australia is considering the acquisition of an additional C‑17A Globemaster III aircraft through the United States Foreign Military Sales program. I discussed this with United States Deputy Under Secretary of the United States Air Force, Ms Heidi Grant, last night.
The recent events in Queensland and Christchurch have underlined the C 17s as an essential part of Australia’s capacity to respond to natural and regional disasters.
C‑17s also support Australian and ISAF forces in Afghanistan and the Middle East.
The C 17A aircraft can lift outsize and heavy cargoes over long distances providing a significant contribution to Australia’s ability to reach and respond to events.
An acquisition of an additional C‑17 would almost certainly obviate any need for the acquisition of two additional C‑130 aircraft, currently planned for after 2013–14.
Also on display are our new F/A‑18F Super Hornets.
Australia’s acquisition of 24 of these new aircraft to replace our F‑111s will bolster Australia’s control of the air and strike capability, essential for deterring and defeating armed attacks on Australia.
Navy and Army helicopters are also on display at the Air Show.
Navy and Army helicopters and their crew played a significant role in the Government’s response to the recent natural disasters in Australia.
The Air Show is a truly international event and this year hosts military aircraft from France, Italy, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States, as well as a host of historical and commercial aircraft.
I thank other nations for their contribution to what will be a spectacular Air Show.
The Aerospace & Defence Exposition also has a reputation as one of the largest events of its kind.
This year, around 200 Australian companies and 80 overseas companies have registered to provide a display. There are delegations from 26 nations.
Air power is fundamental to Australia’s defence strategy and to the principle task of the Australian Defence Force, to deter and defeat armed attacks on Australia.
The aviation industry is therefore an important element of our national security policy.
Australia is in the process of acquiring major new aviation capabilities. Defence industry will have a role to play in these acquisitions and in the sustainment of our new aircraft while they are in ADF service, including:
- Wedgetail Airborne Early Warning and Control aircraft.
- Multi-Role Tanker Transport air to air refuelers.
- New naval combat helicopters.
- F/A‑18F Super Hornets.
- F‑35 Joint Strike Fighters.
It is important that we are collectively as efficient as possible in these acquisitions.
In 2010-11, through the Defence Materiel Organisation, Australia is expected to spend over $1.5 billion on aviation related acquisition and $1 billion on support. This includes local expenditure of nearly $1.5 billion.
The total value of the Defence’s aviation projects is over $20 billion.
This is an excellent forum for industry, Defence and the wider aviation community to exchange information and ideas. You should make the most of this opportunity over the next couple of days.
I hope that you both enjoy and find the Australian International Air Show and Trade Exposition productive over the course of the week.
Ministerial Support and Public Affairs,
Department of Defence,