Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3515 ..
(3) calls on the leaders of the three parties represented in the ACT Assembly to write to all Federal Greens representatives and express their concern for the safety and lives of ADF personnel and oppose the economic and job losses the planned defence cuts would cause.
I have got to say that it is important, I think, that, as members of this place, if we see a threat to Canberrans, to their jobs, to our economy and to their health and wellbeing, it behoves us to speak out and to take action. At the heart of this motion today is the federal Greens’ policy to cut $300 billion from our defence budget, which would do great harm not just to our national security but to the employment and welfare of thousands of Canberrans and to our economy. That is the nub of this motion. I notice that there is an amendment from those opposite that is going to try and avoid speaking about that and distract and deflect, which is shameful but perhaps not surprising. It does, in many ways, sink to a new low.
Federally, it is encouraging that both the government and the Labor opposition have had the guts to stand up and actually condemn this and call it out for what it is. It is important that they do that, but it is also important that we, locally, talk about the damage that this policy would wreak on our community and our jobs, and the amount of money it would rip out of our economy.
The federal government has said the policy shows “just how dangerous they are and the threat that they pose to the safety and security of our country”. The federal Labor Party, who seem to be a million miles away—they are just up on the hill but they are a million miles away from this mob locally who are in coalition with the Greens—describe the policy as delusional and say that it fails to fully appreciate the national security challenge that Australia confronts. What we know and what we are going to see as this debate unfolds today is that, even though the federal Labor Party will stand up to it, the local Labor Party, in cahoots with the Greens, will conspire with them to deflect, distract and do everything they can to stop debate on these cuts.
It is very important that we understand that this policy, if enacted—and the Greens are going to be very clear that they are trying to push for this—would impact on Canberra more than anywhere else in Australia. We are, in many ways, home to the ADF. We have got the Australian Defence Force headquarters. We have got approximately 8,000 men and women in uniform, 7,000 Australian public servants and all of their families. The economic contribution of the defence industry to the ACT and the surrounding region is about $4½ billion, or $4.3 billion, and there are 25,000 defence-related jobs.
The Greens’ policy that they are pushing federally and, I assume, locally—they all love it locally as well—would result in massive job cuts across Canberra and all of the establishments, all the men and women in uniform and in the public service, and contractors in Russell offices, the Royal Military College, the Australian Defence Force Academy, the Australian Defence College at Weston, Brindabella Park, Campbell Park offices, HMAS Harman, and bases in our region like Headquarters JOC just outside Bungendore. Those job loses would be devastating not just within the defence establishment but within the defence industry sector.