Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2021 Week 12 Hansard (Tuesday, 23 November 2021) . . Page.. 3517 ..
deterred by effective communication. That is not going to stop them from doing what they want to do.
History is littered with naive politicians who rely only on appeasement and communication as deterrents, rather than a capable military. We saw it, probably in its most horrific, in the strategy of Neville Chamberlain, you will recall, in the lead-up to WWII. “Peace in our time” was his message. That is now the same strategy that the Greens are pushing federally, at the expense of jobs and the Canberra economy. It is bizarre that the veterans affairs minister in the ACT is one of the proponents of this policy that would devastate our defence force.
I spoke earlier this year about the real impact of these sorts of cuts and what they would do. I spoke about an example from my own service, the Bushmaster vehicle. Bushmaster vehicles are protected mobility vehicles, designed to be able to move people around a battlefield and survive hits by IEDs and other weapon systems, RPGs and the like, so that they can survive. Despite those Bushmasters being hit in Afghanistan and in Iraq on numerous occasions, the number of soldiers who died in Bushmaster vehicles is zero.
That is the sort of capability the Greens want to get rid of. They do not want to see this local defence industry in Australia, they tell us. Those who make the Bushmasters in Bendigo—they would not want to see that around. They would prefer, I am sure, the policy of the Brits, who sent their soldiers to war in Land Rovers, and 37 soldiers were killed. That is the real-life impact of that, well beyond the impact directly on our economy and our jobs.
Veterans get that. All the veterans from Afghanistan, all the veterans from Iraq and earlier conflicts, understand that when you are standing up there and saying, “Halve the defence budget, get rid of all the things that soldiers say there is an extra need for, to keep them safe,” the price that will be paid for that is on them. There are no people that will be more affected than those that are in Canberra, the 8,000 service personnel and their families and the 7,000 public servants who stand with them and support them.
I think it is important that we stand up and say, “This would be harmful not just to Australia’s national security but to the ACT.” If you say that this is just one of those kooky Greens’ policies that are never going to come to fruition, that it does not really matter because it is just airy-fairy stuff, the problem is that the Greens are pushing to have the balance of power in the Senate. They have said on the record, from Senator Steele-John who is their peace spokesperson, that the Greens will be pushing for it, talking about the defence cuts, as much as possible.
They have also said that they are going to be in a power-sharing agreement, a coalition federally, just like they are locally, and they are targeting local Canberra seats. A seat in Canberra, I think, is one that they are targeting so that they can try and get into a coalition with Labor federally, and then they can roll out this policy. They have said that they are going to make it a priority, they are going to be pushing for it, and they are going to try and make this a reality.