PRIME MINISTER: Well, thank you very much. Thank you very much, Gerry. Thank you for the incredibly warm welcome that you’ve provided to me and my team here today.
Can I also begin by acknowledging our traditional owners on the land on which we meet today here, the Kaurna people of the Adelaide Plains, and acknowledge their Elders past and present and emerging for the future.
On this day particularly it is exciting to acknowledge our veterans and members of the Australian Defence Forces. So many of them gathered here today, serving our country so magnificently, but particularly on this day, the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force. What a proud day for Australia - that we have the finest air force in the world of any country. We stand proudly amongst all the free nations of the world, and our air force men and women, over centuries, have done so much to achieve that, and I’ll mention a bit more about that in a second. But to all of those veterans, to all of those serving members, thank you for your service.
To our host Michael Ward, Managing Director of Raytheon, thank you so much for this wonderful venue where we can speak of the things we are speaking today. To all the defence industry leaders that Gerry mentioned who are here with us today. Can I also welcome Major General Andrew Bottrell, Head of the Land Systems Division. Can I welcome Premier Steven Marshall - premier of the turnaround state. Premier who was making things happen. I mean, it’s so exciting to see what’s happening here in South Australia. It’s tremendously exciting and I congratulate you once again on the way you’re leading the state.
To Ministers Birmingham and Price, and particularly I know that Birmo would join with me in welcoming Melissa Price back into the Cabinet, particularly in the portfolio of Defence Industry, which I know the Premier is very excited about. But she joins a wonderful team in Cabinet, and particularly a very strong female team, with people of the experience of Marise Payne and Sussan Ley. I mean, many of these names have been mentioned over these last couple of days, but it’s great to see Melissa back there in this critical portfolio for Australia’s future. But someone who wasn’t mentioned as much was Sussan Ley. Sussan Ley has been an outstanding member of our Cabinet over many years, and serving in the Environment portfolio and doing an absolute tremendous job. So I’m very proud of my team, and it’s wonderful to have Melissa there joining Anne Ruston, of course, a proud South Australian, joining our leadership team as well. So a very strong voice for South Australia in our Cabinet, Premier, and that’s wonderful. To Senators McLachlan, who was here as well, great to see you Andrew, and of course Senator Fawcett who, a serving veteran himself and knows more about what goes into most of this technology and I think that many of us, and he’s a constant source of advice to me and, and wisdom.
Can I also acknowledge Brendan Nelson, a fine Defence Minister, of course, but a good friend and his work in honouring particularly the service of men and women at the War Memorial was the finest since its founder, and has gone on to new things now at Boeing. And we’re excited about the partnership we have with Boeing as well, so good to see you Brendan.
Today we take another big step, big as this flag behind me, big as this truck that I’m standing on. Another big step in reaching two of our most important priorities in my Government - keeping Australians safe in an uncertain world. Uncertainty is no stranger to Australians, but I think particularly in the course of the past two and a half years while I’ve been Prime Minister, we have known an uncertainty that has moved to a whole new level. It is a very difficult world in which we live at the moment.
The second is to cement our economic recovery, as we lead the world out of the global pandemic recession. To create jobs, and more jobs and more jobs and more jobs, and we take this step, as I said, on a day when we mark the 100th anniversary, the centenary of the Royal Australian Air Force, and acknowledge them and their dedication. I acknowledge their sacrifice in defending our nation's interests in the midst of these most challenging times. We call to mind the history, and Brendan can I’m sure do it far better than I could. He’s available for at least an hour dissertation at, off the cuff. But he will tell you about defending Darwin and the fight that saved Port Moresby, strafing over Milne Bay, providing air cover at Normandy and launching the raids on the Reich, striking at [inaudible] targets in Korea and Malaya and Vietnam and Iraq and Syria in defence of our freedom, serving our nation with distinction in conflicts and peacekeeping operations around the world. The humanitarian objective of our defence forces should never be underappreciated because I know it’s not underappreciated by those to whom the hand of humanitarian support is reached out to, to supply the Prime Minister of Fiji, most recently. He was sending me all the pics of him with our defence forces there on the ground after the recent cyclone. Couldn’t be more thankful to his Australian family. Indeed, as we look on them as our family also in the Pacific. But here serving us here as well at home, particularly in the last few years - pandemic, droughts, bushfires and now once again, floods. So I thank them all. I thank those who served. Backing in our defence force personnel in an industry that contributes so much to keeping Australians safe is a very high priority of my Government. People like the men and women who work here at Raytheon, Australia’s Centre for Joint Integration. Raytheon Australia has a history of supporting the air, land and sea capabilities of the ADF and highly-skilled Australian jobs. The Centre is a tremendous vote of confidence in the Australian defence industry and in the future capability that we continue to develop. Here you are doing vital work in our national interest, integrating the National Advanced Surface to Air Missile System as part of Australian Army’s new Short Range Ground Based Air Defence system, to provide ADF personnel with protection from a range of things, from a range of threats. Threats that include manned aircraft, unmanned aerial vehicles, cruise missiles and so much more. In other words, they’re massively boosting our defence capability. And that’s why I’m here with my colleagues today.
Today I’m very proud to release the defence manufacturing roadmap. It’s part of a bigger strategy I announced last year, together with the then Minister for Industry Karen Andrews, who’s done a fantastic job in pulling all this together, particularly working with the Defence Industry Melissa Price in this particular area. It sets out to build scale. I want to underline this. We do a lot of things well in this country, but we need to do some of them even more so at scale, because that’s what is the game changer for Australia’s economy. To do it at scale and to capture income in high-value areas of manufacturing, to earn for Australia, because when Australia earns then that means incomes increase, that means there’s more jobs, that means our economy is stronger, and that means we can provide the world-class services that Australians rely on - our hospitals, our schools, our aged care facilities, our social security system. You thought you were just making defence industry equipment, but in building that economy, that’s the ultimate outcome that we’re able to achieve in lifting the living standards of Australians. Defence was one of six key priorities as part of this manufacturing strategy. What we’re releasing today is the mode that, roadmap that drills down into defence industry, a vision for our defence manufacturing that delivers world-leading capabilities, both for our defence force, and responsible exports in our nation’s interests.
A stronger manufacturing base, enabled by a large number of defence businesses which together can contribute to and sustain defence capability. Building deep, comprehensive supply lines and chains, capability, skills that have been taken from the ground up like the young students we met today at the Discovery Centre, which we were opening this morning, who see the same things I’m sure many of you saw when you were that age and deciding I want to be in that industry, whether it’s space or defence industry or things like this. So this is what this, this roadmap, this roadmap is for them, because it’s creating a future for the industry that they’re going to be a part of. It looks like, at things like ability for businesses to form global partnerships. So critical to our future, such as the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter. It was only last month I was in Williamtown with Melissa to mark the introduction, induction of a F-35A Lightning fighter, which is to be maintained and modified at BAE Systems Australia.
We live in an increasingly contested strategic environment and the roadmap recognises how vital our manufacturing is to delivering our defence capability. During COVID we have seen in the production of vaccines how vital it is to have domestic capability. It was, I would argue, probably the most important decision we made in combating COVID. We said we’re not going to rely on the rest of the world to get ourselves out of this. We’re going to build the capability to produce that vaccine here in Australia. We’re one of only a half a dozen or so countries that are producing the AstraZeneca vaccine anywhere in the world. One of only about 20 countries in the world that has a domestic manufacturing capability to produce any of these vaccines anywhere in the world. It didn’t happen by accident. In the midst of the second wave raging through Victoria, Health Minister Greg Hunt and I and the National Security Committee, we took the decision to build that capability. And today we have a sovereign vaccination programme in Australia. We’re doing the same thing here in our defence industry. We’ve taken the decision as a Government not just to get to two per cent of GDP, as we should to protect our nation and ensure our defence forces have the capability we need, but to ensure that we can build it here. Not just assemble it here, but build it here, to design it here, to innovate here, to actually lead the world in the areas that we are able to demonstrate that proficiency. It’s what this is about, because growing these capabilities is good for our economy to create that sovereign capability, to ensure that Australian small and medium businesses are playing a fundamental role in our major programme. It’s so important to the Premier’s plan here in South Australia to engage and lock in, interconnect all of these small and medium-sized Australian businesses, many of them family business, into these supply chains. And that they get that opportunity to demonstrate just what they can do, and participate in these exciting projects. Because while it’s very important that we are getting what we need for our defence forces, what has been demonstrated the world over is if you’ve got a defence contract, you’re having to nut out some of the knottiest problems there are. It’s hard stuff. It’s complicated stuff. And the application, the ingenuity, the innovation, the skills that are needed to solve those problems that are needed at the advanced level that is demanded - you can do that, you can apply that anywhere. And so the onward application of the skills lift that comes from choosing to make defence industry a priority sector, and to back it in with the capability building we’re doing along the supply chain, and I know this is something Minister Price is very passionate about - that we build that capability all the way through the chain, both now and into the future. This is about greater self-reliance, that is true, as well as building greater supply chain resilience and creating more Australian jobs. But we are not going to do this alone.
We do it alongside the great liberal democracies of the world. There has never been a more important time, I think, since the Second World War, where Australia has to stand and lead the way amongst liberal democracies, as we have before, in standing up for liberal democracy. This is the great polarisation that our world is at risk of moving towards. Liberal democracies, authoritarian autocracies, this is what the four Quad Leaders’ gathered together to speak about. And I commend President Biden in leading that discussion. It’s been something I’ve been saying for some time. In this country we cannot take liberal democracy for granted. In the world and indeed in our own country, we have to appreciate it, we have to value it, we have to defend it, and we have to be prepared to do that. A key plank of my Government’s platform is standing up for Australia - in our region, in our economy, in our society - and to protect it from the things that would come to do it harm. Whether that’s taking on big global tech giants or those who might seek to coerce us, and we will stand with those who share our values. And there are none greater than that than our friends in the United States and the United Kingdom, and Japan, and India now, as we work together, our great friends in Indonesia. Great liberal democracies. This is what we’re doing here. This is what we’re doing here. So much bigger than the things that I stand on here today, or I see around this place. It’s what they enable that is so exciting.
This is the latest chapter, of course, in the Government’s long commitment to strengthening our defence capability. We don’t leave this to the United States or other partners. We do our share of the heavy lifting. We don’t leave it to others when it comes to our defence. We do what we need to do, as we always have. We ended that era of neglect, which was corroding our sovereignty, and over the past eight years we have restored the very things that when Brendan was Defence Minister he was also establishing and creating under the Howard Government. In 2016 we released the Defence Industry Policy Statement, and followed that in 2018 when we launched the Defence Industry Capability Plan. Then we released the Defence Policy for Industry Participation last year, and then our Defence Strategic Update and Force Structure Plan for 2020, where I made that observation that we live in a time not dissimilar to the 1930s. I don’t believe it will finish the same way. I really don’t. I’m far more hopeful and positive about that, but I’m not naive to the threat environment in which we exist and the importance of doing what we’re doing right here and the work we’re doing, banding together in strength with those who also share the values of liberal democracy. All of these steps have been taken to ensure that we have a robust, resilient and innovative defence industrial base, one that maximises participation of Australians and supports the highly-skilled jobs that flow. And of course, at the end of the day, this is all about securing and protecting Australia’s interests - what we value so much here, the very simple things that we can appreciate each day. And that is possible because of what is done here and by our defence forces. So it is a great day. It’s a proud day. It’s a very exciting day. And I want to thank you all for the role that you’re playing as part of this vision, whether on the factory floor, whether you’re assembling parts for a surface-to-air missile system, whether you’re lecturing at a university, whether you’re training skilled in our technical colleges around this state as we build that workforce here, particularly in South Australia, for the great feats of manufacturing that are ahead of us here in this state, whether you’re a small business looking to take part and demonstrate what you can do in this great industry. You’re all part of it. Standing alongside, of course, the proud Australian women and men in uniform who serve, as I think you used to say Brendan, under our flag to defend our values. And for them we say, thank you for your service, and thank you for yours.