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Opposition fears defence project cull amid new review

The shadow defence minister has flagged the potential overhaul of major defence capability projects following the Albanese government’s launch of a new Defence Strategic Review.

The shadow defence minister has flagged the potential overhaul of major defence capability projects following the Albanese government’s launch of a new Defence Strategic Review.

The Albanese government’s newly launched Defence Strategic Review has been touted as the largest assessment of the Australian Defence Force’s structure, force posture and ­preparedness in 35 years.

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According to the Terms of Reference, the review would include considerations of the “priority of investment” in Defence capabilities.

Led by former chief of the defence force, retired Air Chief Marshal Sir Angus Houston, and former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith, the review aims to “identify and prioritise” the estate, infrastructure, disposition, logistics and security investments required to provide Australia with the Defence force posture required by 2032-33.

This would involve considering all elements of the Integrated Investment Program and issuing recommendations for the programs reprioritisation in response to recently announced large-scale projects, including the nuclear-powered submarine procurement program under the AUKUS agreement. 

“The review must outline the investments required to support Defence preparedness, and mobilisation needs to 2032-33, the Terms of Reference stated. 

“The review must outline funding needs to 2032-33 to ensure longer-term strategic investments are progressed.”

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But shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie has urged the Albanese government to provide assurances regarding key defence projects to avoid further delays in capability delivery.

Minister Hastie criticised the appointment of former minister Smith, who he claims presided over scraps to defence programs and $5.5 billion in cuts to spending.

“The Prime Minister has said this is the most complex strategic environment Australia has encountered – and what does he do? Appoint the man who oversaw the biggest cuts to Defence in 70 years to review Defence investment,” shadow minister Hastie said.

“When Mr Smith was last in government – he cut and cancelled Defence projects, delayed decisions, and dismissed warnings about the strategic environment Australia was heading into a decade ago.

“Our ADF need capability now, not more reviews and cuts. Labor must guarantee that they will not use this Review as a smokescreen for cuts and delay.”

The review was foreshadowed by Prime Minister Albanese and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles earlier this year.

Prime Minister Albanese had previously said the review would involve:

  • considerations of whether Tomahawk missiles can be fitted to the Collins Class submarines;
  • reviewing progress of the Future Frigates project;
  • exploring potential upgrades to weapons on the Arafura Class offshore patrol vessels or through additional Hobart Class air warfare destroyers; and
  • advancing Australia’s strike weapons procurement program.

The deadline for submissions from interested stakeholders is Sunday, 30 October 2022, with recommendations due to be handed down in March 2023 in time for the National Security Committee of Cabinet.

[Related: Government launches major ADF review ]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

Opposition fears defence project cull amid new review
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