Press Conference - Raytheon Australia, Adelaide SA

Transcript
31 Mar 2021
Prime Minister
E&OE

MICHAEL WARD, RAYTHEON AUSTRALIA: OK good morning. I’d like to welcome the Prime Minister, the Premier, the Minister for Defence Industry and the Minister for Finance here for the opening of Raytheon Australia’s Centre for Joint Integration. This precinct will form the hub of our integrated air and missile defence industry approach over the next 10 to 20 years. And with that opening, I’d like to hand over to the Prime Minister.

PRIME MINISTER: Thank you very much to Raytheon for the welcome here and the ability for us to come and congratulate them on this amazing new facility, and I congratulate the Premier for the wonderful job he's done here in South Australia to make it the defence state and the jobs that have been created here in South Australia as part of our Defence Industry Plan.

Can I also of course welcome Minister Birmingham, not just the Minister for Finance but a passionate South Australian Senator, joined by his colleagues here today, Melissa Price Defence Industry Minister having re-joined Cabinet.

We are bringing forward and 2045 to now, the development of our Sovereign Guided Weapons Enterprise. This was something I flagged last year, when I spoke of the update of our Defence Strategic Plan. This is all about ensuring that we have the capability to do what we need to do to protect and defend Australia’s interests in our part of the world.

This is a billion-dollar initiative to bring this forward, to ensure that we have what we need to do what's right for all Australians, and to do it with the best partners is in the world, our defence industry. We have been working together with now for many years, as we've recovered, rebuilt, restored the investment that we put in every single day to our defence industry and our defence capability to keep Australian safe, to assure that Australians can stand up for our interests, to stand up in our part of the world, to stand up for Liberal democracy and the freedom that so many before us paid the ultimate price, for us to enjoy here today.

And to do that, you’ve got to have the best people, the best companies, the best technology, the best systems and that's what we're seeing built here in our defence industry.

Today I’ll also announce the Defence Industry Roadmap, this is part of our Advanced Manufacturing Strategy and joining together with other sectors, like the medical sector, the minerals technology sector, recycling and other important sectors, food processing and the like, key manufacturing sectors, so we continue to make things here in Australia. Real programs, with real support to build the capability of our small, medium size and larger enterprises so they can participate in the significant work that is being done. And they become a partner of choice, whether it's in the defence industry or so many other sectors.

The plan I launch today is about realising the next phase of development of our defence industry, so it's an important day for Australia on the day that we celebrate the RAAF Centenary, just one of the many great stories of Australia's Defence Forces and I particularly pay credit and tribute to all who have served in our RAAF. And as they come together in Canberra today with the Governor-General to mark this important anniversary, this Centenary, of their service to our nation, so we thank them for that.

I'm going to ask the Premier now to speak, and the Defence Industry Minister and Senator Birmingham to talk about how important this is for South Australia.

But introducing the Premier. He is a partner in this exercise. He is a partner who gets things done. Something significant changed when Premier Marshall became Premier, and that is the South Australian Government stopped arguing with the Federal Government and started working with the Federal Government, and that has paid big dividends for South Australia. We found a Premier we could work with, to get things done, and that wasn't interested in the politics, was only interested in the delivery and together the Premier and I, Premier Marshall and I are getting things done. Both for Australia and for South Australia and I'm so pleased he’s here with me today.

STEVEN MARSHALL MP, PREMIER OF SOUTH AUSTRALIA: Thanks very much Prime Minister. It's great to have you here in our state. I too would like to acknowledge that today is the Centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force and we thank all the current serving and veteran members of the RAAF for their incredible service to our nation. It's a very special day for everybody involved with the RAAF, we are especially celebrating it here in South Australia, one of two super bases in the nation. Edinburgh is based here in our state.

Can I just say the Prime Minister is 100% right, we have cut out all of the fake fights with Canberra since we came to Government and we have now been the beneficiary of great new platforms and programs for our state, including of course the Australian Space Agency, but today, we are here at Raytheon Australia for the opening of this major new centre for joint integration.

Now, probably people don't know what a centre for joint integration is, I will tell you. It is a fantastic new defence manufacturing and integration capability, based right here in South Australia, a massive $50 million investment from Raytheon Australia which is really showing their great confidence in South Australia, the defence state. I also want to massively acknowledge the vision, the bold vision that the Prime Minister has announced today, to set up a new national guided weapons enterprise for Australia. This is an incredibly important issue for national security.

This Prime Minister, more than any other, has very clearly identified that we need sovereign manufacturing capability in this country. We certainly need sovereign manufacturing capability for guided weapons, and that's what this is about.

I know it is a new national enterprise, yet to be determined, but we are course, as the defence state, going to be putting ourselves forward to get as much of this as possible. We’ve got great skills in South Australia,  we’ve got great capability in South Australia, and we got great ambition when it comes to the defence industry, so today, a great day for South Australia, to have the Prime Minister here in our state, talking space, talking defence, celebrating the many thousands and thousands of jobs that we already have in defence industry but most importantly, those thousands of jobs for the next generation of people to deliver our sovereign capability for our nation.

THE HON. MELISSA PRICE MP, MINISTER FOR DEFENCE INDUSTRY: Thank you. Wonderful to be here with Premier Marshall and the Prime Minister. Our Government has a very ambitious $270 billion defence capability ambition. But this mission cannot be done by ourselves, and today we are standing in this $50 million new facility of Raytheon, so our Government needs good partners like Raytheon. But it's not just the big end of town. Our government is focused on developing our small and medium enterprises. Those companies who don't even know they are defence-ready yet. So I want to acknowledge and thank Raytheon for the work that they do in supporting and developing our Raytheon for the work that they’ve done, and their contribution with respect to the new Manufacturing Defence Roadmap, which is a very important roadmap, which is very complementary to our sovereign industrial capability program. Our four structure plan acknowledged that our Government was going to invest $1 billion and our missile capability. Today we have announced that we are bringing the work on that very important capability forward and the next step is for us to work with our potential partners. It is a great day for defence capability, an excellent day for South Australia, thank you.

SENATOR THE HON. SIMON BIRMINGHAM, MINISTER FOR FINANCE: This is an incredibly exciting day for all South Australians as we see real outcomes and real job from the record investment in defence industry. This centre for joint integration is so symbolic of what is important about the defence industry and defence investment our Government has been making. The integration element is about big global primes working with small businesses to take them onto the global stage. That's what's going to happen here. Small Australian and South Australian businesses getting the leg up to be able to work with a global prime and secure opportunities not just to contribute to Australia's defence industry, but to contribute into global supply chains, and it is all possible thanks to the integration between Federal Government and State Government working together. Prime Minister Morrison, Premier Marshall, working in partnership in an integrated way to get real outcomes, and on behalf of all South Australia's Federal Liberal MPs, I want to thank the PM, the Premier, the Minister for Defence industry and Minister for Defence for their leadership in making this happen. But above all, Raytheon for their investment, investment facilitated because of the long-term plans and commitments our Government has made.  The Defence industry is no longer being fed one minute at a time, they can absolutely plan for the future, invest for the future, and this investment here is about the long-term capability that will deliver long-term jobs for South Australians for decades to come.

PRIME MINISTER: Simon and I will just take questions in a second. But I also want to acknowledge the work that was done by former Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds for getting us to this point here today and the announcements we have been able to make today. Able so want to thank Minister Andrews for the great work she has done as Industry Minister and the work she has done in bringing this roadmap together today to get us to this point. Happy to take questions, why don't we deal with the questions on the matters that we have announced today and then if you wish to move to other matters.

JOURNALIST: That $2 billion, what’s the likelihood of that work ending up in South Australia?

PRIME MINISTER: It's going to go where we’ve got the greatest capability and it's going to go where we can get the job done and that is what Australian taxpayers would expect. There are no special favours or deals here, but we want Australians very much at the heart of what we're doing here and we are developing that capability.  And so this is the defence state so I'm sure they were put their best foot forward and I’m sure they’ll do very well.

JOURNALIST: Just on that Prime Minister, from what you’ve seen today, how well-positioned do you think Raytheon is to capitalise?

PRIME MINISTER: I think they are very well positioned but they are one of many and they are a very outstanding organisation, and we're very pleased to see what they have been to establish here. But this is the great advantage that we now have, that Minister Price and I, and now Minister Dutton, in that there are so many companies now establishing and building their capability and many of them are doing it right here in South Australia. Doing it in Queensland too, there are doing it in other states around the country and that is great to see. All Premiers, all states are seeing the great opportunity for jobs, for their people and their states. But I can tell you, I haven't seen anyone more enthusiastic and more action orientated than Premier Marshall in seeking to secure those opportunities.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, how exactly do you see manufacturing missiles in current defence projects. Can you unlock the connections there [inaudible]?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, they sit in parallel, but as I referred to in my earlier comments, we have augmented what our broader strategic outlook is, and that involved bringing forward the capability for longer-range strike and that's what this capability is about. And that sits in harmony with the other priorities we have, whether it’s naval ship building or elsewhere. We have a coordinated, comprehensive capability plan that is matched to the threats and to the security environment that Australia is facing now and that we are in the future. But I should also stress, that is a capability that meshes together with our alliance partners as well, particularly the United States, but beyond that. The Quad itself began from a humanitarian perspective many, many years ago. It has now risen to a leaders level which is having a far broader reference than that, but it remains the case that the relationship between ourselves, Japan, India and Australia is very much grounded on our joint security interests here. And there are many other partners that add to that, the United Kingdom in particular, an important defence partner of Australia as well. What do we all have in common? Liberal democracy, the values that we share, ensuring that is something that will remain long-established here in this part of the world and elsewhere.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, you’re obviously back in South Australia

PRIME MINISTER: Yeah! Love being back in South Australia!

JOURNALIST: Has a decision been made about the future of the Collins Class Full-Cycle Docking?

PRIME MINISTER: No, it hasn't.

JOURNALIST: Why not?

PRIME MINISTER:  Because there are other matters that we are dealing with at the moment, that matter is not one that needs to be addressed at this point. There are still many years before we are in that position and there are a series of other issues we’re dealing with across the procurements where I am focusing my attention right now.

JOURNALIST: So what’s your message to the people out at [inaudible] sweating on if they’ll have work?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, keep working. They’re doing a great job. They’re doing a great job. What has been achieved here with this Collins Class Full-Cycle Docking has been extraordinary, they’ve demonstrated a great capability here. It’s one that I'd take very seriously and acknowledge.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, can we ask you about the vaccine rollout? The number of vaccines they’ve received not [inaudible] have not administered [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: I wouldn't over interpret this. The vaccine schedules for delivery have for 12 weeks have been provided to the states, that’s been the case, I am certainly not making any criticism of that. It’s a big job, we are all doing it, the states and territories are doing it for their frontline workers and hospitals and their quarantine workers. And we are doing it through the GP rollout. Of course, at the outset, when 3 million or so vaccines aren’t able to be delivered to Australia because of the vaccine release out of Europe in particular, that was obviously going to impact the early success. But we are already at over 650,000, I expect by next week we will be into the million, and each week the distribution and the vaccination dosage gets stronger and stronger and stronger. We’re on track for our first dose for everyone by the end of October. In particular, the states and territories are moving through their workforce, as is their part of the responsibility. We are working through the GPs as we move into 1B and the 6 million Australians that are part of that. And so, it’s not a race, it’s not a competition, I am not interested in, you know, this state, or that state. I’m interested in Australians being vaccinated safely, with appropriate care and support given to all of them. Australia has put itself into position to have a manufactured vaccine here in Australia. We’re not relying, like most of the countries in the world, for vaccines to be coming from somewhere else. They’re getting made here in Australia, in Melbourne. I was there last Friday, saw them coming off the line, going into distribution, heading out into the GPs and states around the country. So we are getting on with this, we are getting it done and it will continue to build day after day. Not interested in people who want to play politics with vaccines and distribution and all of that sort of thing, I will leave the politics to those who want to play politics. It's my job to get people vaccinated, and the Premiers’ job to get people vaccinated and that is exactly what we're are doing.

JOURNALIST: Particularly Queensland has accused you of [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: Well, that target was explained months ago, that was dispensed with because of the problems we had with vaccines not coming from overseas. That it was dealt with months ago, so that being put up as some constant target is just politics.

JOURNALIST When do you imagine that will reach [inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER: Well we are tracking this, we have got over 800,000 vaccines coming out every week and we are reviewing that on a weekly basis and how that is tracking over time, but the target to get everybody with their first dose by the end of October, that is on track.

JOURNALIST: Queensland has accused you of, or Canberra, of a lack of transparency because of supply issues.

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I don’t agree with that. They have a 12 week forward projection of dose distribution to all states and territories. The Premier has his, all the other states have theirs. But again, I have no interest in getting involved on the tit-for-tat on vaccines. What Australians want is for people to get vaccinated, Governments to work together. We’ll work with the Queensland Government, the South Australia Government, all the Governments. The National Cabinet is meeting again next week and we’ll I’m sure  have a discussion about that. They’ve been receiving the regular updates from Brendan Murphy, Professor Murphy who is part of that process, so I think these issues may be being a bit over interpreted. States and territories, the Commonwealth working closely together to get Australians vaccinated. And as I said, one of the few countries in the world, only about 20 countries in the world can actually produce their vaccines in their own country, and there is only about half a dozen or so who do the AstraZeneca vaccine. So the decision that our Government took, the Federal Government took, to ensure that we had a domestically manufactured vaccine meant that we have a vaccination program. If we hadn't taken that decision, last August, then we would not have a vaccination program today. We wouldn't be talking about the rate of vaccination, we’d be talking about no vaccination, and that was because of the foresight and the wisdom of the decision that we took in the midst of the crisis of the second wave of the virus in Victoria. We were making the decision to ensure that Australians would be getting their vaccines now.

JOURNALIST: Can we get your reaction to Grace Tame's comments that you’ve used this reshuffle is a distraction?

PRIME MINISTER: Well, I wouldn't share those views. I respect Grace and I once again congratulate her on her strong advocacy on the issues that have been so, so front of mind, particularly. They’ve always been front of mind for people who have been dealing with these issues over generations. And so, of course, I respect her contribution and I know that Senator Stoker is in particular, keen to work with Grace Tame, as she takes on her new responsibilities. I think everybody has a contribution to make here and we’ll continue to do that in a respectful way, that draws together the experience of women from all walks of life, from all different perspectives. And if anyone disagrees then, as a country you know, there’s nothing wrong with disagreeing with each other but I think we’ve got to find better ways to disagree. And this comes and builds from a culture of respect in this country, which I know and I’m sure Grace would agree, is something we need to continue to build.

JOURNALIST: Prime Minister, just on electric cars, 2019 you ridiculed [inaudible].

PRIME MINISTER: No, that would be an unfair suggestion.

JOURNALIST: Do you stand by those comments?

PRIME MINISTER: I didn't ridicule that technology, that's good technology. We actually have policies to support that technology. What I called into question was the Labor Party policy and their ability to implement it. And I think we're in a similar process today. I mean, the Labor Party getting together, they spent $30 billion in two days. Imagine what they'd be like if they had three years. Again, we see that they don't know how to spend money responsibly. You know, JobKeeper was the biggest single economic intervention this country has ever seen. It was a lifeline to this country, economy, but a lifeline literally to people's lives and livelihoods. It was a bold and brave decision of our Government to do this and put in place this support. But that was only half the decision. When you make big economic decisions like this, then you've got to be prepared to make the decision at the other side, which is at some point it has to be withdrawn. And we've taken that decision. The Labor Party has not supported us in that decision, they think you can spend money forever. They think you can run the Australian economy on taxpayers money forever. You think you can put the Government at the centre of the economy forever. That's not our vision. Our vision is one of economic responsibility, fiscal responsibility that sees our economies led by businesses like the ones we're standing here right now. That's where people's jobs come from the future, they don’t come from the Government spending your money, they come from the Government wisely investing in areas responsibly that ensures that government finances, I'm sure the Minister for Finance would agree, is done responsibly and you just can't, you know, run around spending money recklessly, like the Labor Party seem to have made an art form over the life of the of their time.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER: I can’t quite hear you sorry.

JOURNALIST: [inaudible]

PRIME MINISTER: Well, there are very clear responsibilities on the vaccination program and the vaccine administration for those frontline health workers is managed by the states and territories. That's the partnership we had. We paid for those as the Federal Government, federal taxpayers you paid for it, to ensure that we secured those doses. That's more than $6 billion dollars that the Federal Government invested in ensuring that the states and territories would have the doses they could administer. But their task was to administer those doses to frontline workers. Now, I'm not making any criticism about this. It's a big project. And we just need to get on with it and get this done. That's exactly what we're doing. We're doing it here in South Australia, doing it all around the country. And I look forward to us meeting those marks next week and ensuring that we progress on, and ensuring that Australia continues to emerge safer and their health protected, but importantly, the jobs that we’re seeing created here by the announcement today are realised, and I thank the Premier of South Australia once again for being here and being such a great partner. Thank you all very much.