Censure Motion Defence Minister

Speech Senator Lambie

Censure Motion Defence Minister 26.11.14

Mr President,

I rise to contribute to and support the censure motion put before this Senate by the opposition, against the Minister for Defence – Senator Johnson.

I congratulate Australian Labor party for standing up for Australian Jobs, Australian Ship Building and Australian National Security and urge all Senator’s to support this censure motion.

I agree with all 5 points of this censure motion.

I agree that the minister for Defence has:
1) insulted the men and women of ASC by stating he “wouldn’t trust them to build a canoe”
2) Undermined the confidence in Australia defence capability
3) Threatened the integrity of Australia’s Defence procurement project
4) Broke his promise made on 8 May 2013 to build 12 new submarines at ASC in South Australia and
5) Cut the real pay, Christmas and recreational leave for Australian Defence Force personnel.

Mr President there is now a serious credibility and leadership crisis for the Abbott government, which is best described by this important question.

How can any Australian believe any promises that this minister and indeed his Prime
Minister makes?

The public record shows that this government thought the Defence Minister, Prime
minister and other Liberal party ministers have broken promises and deliberately mislead ordinary Australians  – and the men and women of the Australia’s defence forces.

Mr. President, the government created the crisis surrounding Australian Ship Building because of a failure of leadership, by the Defence Minister and PM.

The Defence minister should be sacked shortly for his incompetence and lack of honesty. That may buy the PM some time, however we shouldn’t have to remind government members how vitally important it is for Australia to be able to manufacture ships and weapons.

The government of Australia should have followed the now Governor Generals Sir Peter Cosgrove’s advice he gave in 2013. As the Chief of the ADF Sir Peter said:
“Whenever I am asked why we should build Submarines in Australia, my short reply is that we can’t afford not to”

Mr President yesterday I met with members of the AMWU – proud, Australians skilled trades men. They build ships and submarines to defend our Nation.

I was proud to support those men and their families – in their campaign to guarantee that $250 B of shipbuilding over the next 12 years for the service and defence of our Nation – is carried out in Australia.

We’re an island Nation – I come from an Island state – we should be able to build ships and submarines in order to defend Australia. Any one who undermines our capability to build Naval vessels should be charged with sedition or treason.

They are obviously dangerously stupid, or working for Australia’s enemies. And they certainly should not be allowed to hold high office or the position of Minister in this Parliament.

Mr. President, I’ve had my differences with the Union Movement in the past and

I don’t believe the union movement gets it right every time. However in this matter, the AMWU have got it absolutely right.

Paul Bastian the National Secretary of the AMWU has given 4 good reasons why every Australian, including Tasmanians should support Australian Ship building.

  1. It’s vital for National Security

Quote ; “Australia is an island nation dependent on maritime trade across our surrounding oceans. If our shipbuilding industry is allowed to die, we will lose the skills required to design build and maintain naval ships and submarines – skills that have been recognized as crucial though out our history and in the recent Defence white papers tackling future strategic risks.”

  1. Its good for our economy

Quote ;“Commissioning a one-off build from overseas is sometimes cheaper than building at home in the short term. But this ignores the long tern economic benefits.”

  1. Australian workers are productive and competitive

Mr. President that headline speaks for its self – however I remind the senate again that the only way we can become more productive and competitive is to guarantee that our power and electricity prices are the cheapest in the world. And that while our competitors in America and UK have power 3 times cheaper than ours, undue pressure will always be placed on Australian wages and conditions.

  1. Its good for Employment and Nation Building

Quote; “The Australian Government has identified the need to build around 8 war ships at a cost of $100B over coming decades. Adding maintenance across the ships life times the outlay is closer to $250B”

Mr President, I want Tasmanian to have a share of that $250B worth of Australia’s ship building. I want to remind this Parliament that Tasmania can also play an important role in Australian ship-building for our ADF.

If this defence minister is allowed to have his way – if he is allowed to remain in this high office undermining the national security by his lack of credibility, leadership respect for the truth –

… then my state of Tasmania will loose all hope of ever contributing to that $250B National defence building program.

Tasmanian has a Maritime Network taking the world by sea…

Like others states, We have world-class maritime engineers, designers and ship builders – Incat, APCO Engineering, Australian Maritime College, Cawthorn Welding, Revolution Design, Plastic Fabrications, Richardson Devine Marine, Sabre Marine & General Engineers

Tasmanian has world-class skills training and Research – Australian Maritime College, Asia Pacific Maritime institute, CSIRO, Skills Institute …

Why shouldn’t Tasmanian designers, Ship Builders, trades people, apprentices and trainers, small business owners – share in the work and the wealth that is generated by ships and other equipment for Australia’s defence?

I’m sure that all my fellow senators from Tasmanian – no matter what their political party member ship, will agree with my argument.

I’m sure that Senator Abetz and Colbeck are just as angry with Senator Johnston – as I am for denying our ship builders the opportunity to contribute to the National Defence.

Defence Pay

Mr president, Australia’s leading defence writer Ian McPhedran recently reported that, “a wave of anger has erupted from the ranks of the Australian Defence Force and the community following the government’s decision to cut pay and leave entitlements for military personnel.”

I’ve said this before, but this censure motion gives me an opportunity to say it inside this Senate chamber – I’m not going to stand by silently and fail to act, as this Liberal / National Party government steals money, holidays and entitlements from those who are ready to fight and die to protect us from our enemies, who right now, are knocking at Australia’s door.

Our ADF heroes didn’t die so that selfish politicians could take what they pleased from the public purse, while soldiers, who risked their lives to protect our freedoms, are treated like dogs and thrown scraps from the nation’s table.

It’s possible to honor the dead and at the same time, fight like hell for the living.

All Australian politicians must live up to the ANZAC legend not off it.

And what we have in the case of the Minister for Defence is a politician who is prepared to arrogantly live off the ANZAC legend.

A Defence minister who is prepared to make a big noting, self-serving, hypocritical speech on Remembrance or ANZAC days – while being part of a Liberal party plan to cut the real pay, Christmas and recreational leave for Australian Diggers.

Senator Johnson – shame on you. How could you enjoy the luxuries and perks of high office while forcing a real pay cut on our defence families?

How could the Defence Minister allow his chiefs of defence on salaries of almost $800,000 to do his dirty work?

Doesn’t he know what harm it has to the diggers’ moral when the top brass on $700,000 a year and who have just received tens of thousands of dollars of annual pay rises – tells the troops that they are expected to take a pay cut and lose Xmas leave.

This Defence minister was MIA when it came to delivering the bad news about the ADF pay cut news.

Mr President I’ve received from the Office of Parliamentary Drafting a first draft of a Private Members Bill, which will link Defence Force Pay to the Pay of Politicians.

Will the defence minister once this censure motion has been passed agree try and make amends and agree to support my private members bill?

This piece of legislation if passed by the Australian Parliament, will forever solve the Australian Defence Force pay crisis created by the Minister and Mr Abbott.

Members of our Defence Force don’t have a Union. They don’t have a strong voice in the room when their pay and conditions are negotiated.

Our Diggers can’t go on strike if their government forces them to take a pay cut, loss of holidays and entitlements.

And yet our Diggers are expected, as part of their normal work conditions, to be killed or terribly wounded.

“This latest wage offer by the Abbott Government which effectively means:

  • a 1.5% pay cut,
  • loss of up to 6 days of leave and
  • important travel allowances

… is further proof of why politicians, especially Liberals can’t be trusted to manage ADF pay.

It’s also proof why ADF salaries should be automatically linked through legislation to the salaries of politicians.

Who could reasonably argue against the proposal that our Diggers, who are prepared to shed blood in war for us, should have their remuneration link to those who send them to war?

My critics in the past have said that I’ll just be a lone voice in Parliament, that I would have no effect on this debate – but what they fail to understand is that a lone voice, armed with the facts, passion and the truth in our Parliament – a great chamber of democratic debate, can influence and change the course of history for the better.

The Parliamentary Library background research I commissioned for my Private Members Bill shows that in one year alone (2012) Australian politicians were awarded a 34.3 % pay rise from $140, 910 to $190,550.

This was an increase in one year of almost $50K ( $49,640) for an Australian Politician – while an Australian Soldier (pay band 9 Corporal – now $76K p/a) received a 2.5% pay rise or approximately an extra $1,900 per year.

Sadly the Parliamentary Library research reveals for the first time, that the average yearly rise in defence pays over the last ten years is only approximately 3%.

This stands in stark contrast with the average yearly rise in politician’s pay, which since 2004, is almost 7%. The politicians’ pay rise included the total 2012 pay rise of 34.3%.

One of the important messages I’ve received from the legal experts at the Office of Parliamentary Council, is that my Private Members legislation does not breach any provisions of Australia’s constitution.

Therefore any one who says otherwise is simply trying to muddy the waters and let the Abbott government off the hook, with regard to their appalling management of Defence pay crisis.

The National Ex-service Organisations

The National Ex-service Organisations made up of:

  • Australian Peacekeepers and Peacemakers Veterans Association;
  • Australian Federation of Totally and Permanently Incapacitated Ex-Service Men and Women;
  • Australian Special Air Service Association;
  • Defence Force Welfare Association;
  • Legacy Australia Council;
  • Naval Association of Australia;
  • Partners of Veterans Association of Australia;
  • Royal Australian Air Force Association;
  • Royal Australian Regiment Corporation;
  • Vietnam Veterans Association of Australia;
  • Vietnam Veterans Federation of Australia; War Widows Guild of Australia.

… Have released a media statement which offer extraordinary cristism of this Defence minister and his government.

They didn’t make this statement as the Attorney General would have you believe because a slip of the tongue.

They have put out these damaging statements because of a prolonged period of dysfunctional and incompetent magament of the Defence and indeed Veterans affair departments.

The National Ex-service Organisations have said and I quote:

“The recent pay decision which purportedly “in no way reflects the value that the Government places on ADF personnel” is but one of a number of decisions in the ‘employment package’ for ADF members which have the effect of reducing the value of their total remuneration in a time of rising living costs hitting those in the lower ranks disproportionally.

We ask the Prime Minister to personally intervene recognising the unfair impact of these decisions;

  • To ensure disabled veterans and war widows pensions adjustments remain as at present;
  • Instigate a reworking of the Commonwealth’s position on the Workplace Remuneration Arrangement to provide an outcome for our service personnel that at least matches the expected increases in living costs over the next three years;
  • Revise the pay case process to abolish the provisions for an “agreed case” to ensure no more behind closed door dealings and allow the ADF and Commonwealth proposals to be argued in open proceedings before the Defence Force Remuneration Tribunal for adjudication; and
  • Ensure Defence engendered charges such as married quarter rent, uniform and ration charges are not increased by more than the salary percentage increase.

Mr President – during the course of this censure ship debate I’m also offering the government and the defence minister a chance to give a guarantee that his government hasn’t entered into a secret deal put more troops on the ground in Iraq.

Today my office has received information to suggest that this defence minister has along with the PM given a secret commitment to the United States to put more Australian boots on the ground in Iraq.

I understand the seriousness of this allegation but given that the history of public deception that this minister and government has – now is the perfect time to stand in this Senate and tell me that the people who have contacted my office are wrong.

In closing

In closing, its obvious that this Liberal party decision to favor over seas ship and submarine builders over Australian companies – smacks of self Interest, rather than National Interest.

If we really want to guarantee an Australian Ship building industry must we also be forced to guarantee that the Liberal party can get a kick back from the process?

I support the Men and women of our ADF, I support the men and women who build our ships and other defence machinery and I support this censure motion before the house.



Permanent link to this article: https://vietnamvetssc.org.au/censure-motion-defence-minister/

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