14 May 2019


In an extraordinary response to the Morrison Government’s announcement to build and maintain a new self-propelled howitzer artillery system for the Australian Army in Geelong, Labor’s defence spokesman Richard Marles has refused to match the Coalition’s commitment.

Labor haven’t confirmed they will match our important commitment that will create up to 350 Australian jobs. Instead, they have just used weasel words.

Today, the shadow minister for defence and local member for Corio Richard Marles said Labor “will seek Army’s advice on this decision to make sure it meets its needs, not a desperate government’s political need.”

We know Labor has form on the cancellation of defence contracts. In fact, they cancelled this very project in 2012 when they ran out of money.

On 3 May 2012 then Prime Minister Julia Gillard announced dramatic defence cuts including the cancellation of the self-propelled artillery acquisition which was intended to save $225 million. This put our defence industry at risk.

The then Chief of Army, Lieutenant General David Morrison, was questioned in Senate Estimates in 2012 about the cancellation of the self-propelled artillery. LTGEN Morrison admitted that the decision to instead acquire further towed guns could expose Australian troops to danger on operations, as well as being less mobile and less capable than the self-propelled alternative.

The Australian reported on 5 May 2012 that the former Chief of Army, Lieutenant General Peter Leahy, said that the decision to scrap self-propelled artillery was ill-conceived.

Sadly, once again, Labor are now refusing to back this crucial project for Geelong.

Even if Labor did commit, you cannot trust them to deliver it given they cancelled this exact project last time they were in Government.

At that time, they followed on with the process initiated by the Howard Government, then right before contract signature, cancelled the project to prop up their budget mismanagement.

What’s to say they wouldn’t do it again when they run out of money?

Only Sarah Henderson and a re-elected Morrison Government can guarantee these manufacturing jobs in Geelong.

14 May 2019