As cuts to the Defence budget under Labor continue to grow past $25b, it is perhaps little wonder why the Minister for Defence, Stephen Smith, has shirked radio interviews on the subject in his home town of Perth.
Shadow Minister for Defence Science, Technology and Personnel, Stuart Robert, said Perth radio identity Howard Sattler had time and again approached Mr Smith to conduct an interview to discuss a wide range of Defence matters, and time again Mr Smith had refused.
‘Mr Smith’s failure to speak about the dire state of his own department, in his own home town of Perth smacks of political cowardice,’ Mr Robert said.
‘Despite being approached by 6PR’s Howard Sattler on numerous occasions Mr Smith has rejected every opportunity to speak about Defence and the over $25b worth of cuts he has made to the Australian Defence Force.’
Mr Robert questioned why Mr Smith had time and again failed to defend his record as Defence Minister in his home town of Perth.
‘Mr Smith is trying to avoid being held to account. He knows that if he were to conduct an interview with Howard Sattler that he would be asked the tough questions regarding the cuts to the Defence budget,’ Mr Robert said.
‘He would no doubt be asked why he cut recreation leave travel for troops, why he has failed to roll out the Defence Family Health Care Trial, why he has cut Reserve training days by a further 10 per cent, why he has cut Army Cadet funding, why he hasn’t spent a cent on base security improvements, why he has cancelled or delayed billions of dollars’ worth of equipment purchases and why he has reduced the Defence budget as a proportion of GDP to its lowest level since 1938.’
‘If all of these cuts were so necessary, I would expect Mr Smith to be out defending them on a daily basis, but the truth is you can’t defend the indefensible.’
‘Despite Mr Smith offering reassurances that everything will be ok from the east coast, there are consequences for stripping $25b from the Defence budget including a very real impact on our Defence capabilities and on the employment conditions and morale of our military personnel.’
‘I call on Mr Smith to conduct an interview with Howard Sattler so that he can answer the tough questions, which will enable his own constituents to hold him to account when it comes to the $25b he has ripped out of the ADF.’