Australians just can’t trust Labor. This was proven once again at last night’s Leaders’ Debate when Bill Shorten made a clumsy attempt to hoodwink the Australian people and rewrite history to cover up Labor’s appalling failures in Defence.

Bill Shorten desperately tried to claim credit for Labor for the Air Warfare Destroyer and Landing Helicopter Dock programs when both projects were decided and contracted by the Howard Government.

Bill Shorten then lied about the Hunter class Frigate and Arafura class Offshore Patrol Vessel programs in another desperate attempt to claim credit for Labor – Labor did nothing on these projects other than delay them. Both projects were accelerated, decided and contracted by our Coalition Government.

Labor’s record with Defence when last in government speaks for itself – cutting spending and using it as an ATM for their half-baked schemes and failed policies; not commissioning the construction of a single naval vessel to be built in Australia; and 119 Defence projects delayed, 43 projects reduced, and 8 projects cancelled.

Labor’s failure to commission these important projects led to the workforce ‘Valley of Death’ and the loss of thousands of jobs in Adelaide and across the country. The Coalition has acted decisively since 2013 to increase Defence spending, build up our military capability, and create tens of thousands of jobs for Australians through our revitalised sovereign defence industry.

When they were last in government, Labor cut the Defence budget by over 10 per cent in real terms in 2012-13, causing Defence investment to fall to the lowest level since 1938 as a proportion of GDP. Over $18 billion was gutted from Defence funding, weakening our Defence Force, softening our borders, discouraging investment, and setting back Australia’s defence industry.

During this campaign, it has become apparent that Labor is divided on Defence and waiting for an opportunity to raid Defence once again by repeating their culture of cutting and indecision should they get back into government.

Labor has announced a Force Posture Review, which is simply a cover for their plan to cut Defence spending and walk back on the Coalition’s $200 billion commitment to Defence capability over the next decade. Labor must come clean on what projects it wants to cancel and what bases it wants to close.

Labor has already announced they will again delay the Attack class submarine program, placing at risk the defence of our nation and the creation of thousands of jobs.

“If elected, Mr Marles said a Labor government would briefly pause the project in order to ¬assess its viability.”

Source: 12 March 2019

Bill Shorten and Richard Marles must commit to the Coalition’s Integrated Investment Program and all the projects in it, which are essential to the future capability of the Australian Defence Force.

Labor must commit to the Coalition’s defence industry policies, which are seeing Australia’s defence industry boom and thousands of new high-paying jobs being created.

Bill Shorten needs to guarantee that Labor won’t delay or cancel these important projects in a return to their old playbook - ripping funding out of Defence to fill their budget black holes.

The Coalition Government has spent the last six years restoring Labor’s unprecedented cuts to Defence funding and reversing their failure to commit to a single Australian-built naval vessel. We have restored confidence in our defence industry and grown our high-tech manufacturing sector.

The Coalition Government’s decisions have saved tens of thousands of jobs for Australians that the Labor Party put at risk.

Only through a strong economy is our Government able to give our Defence Force and defence industry confidence, by getting the policy settings right and backing them up with real investment.

Only a re-elected Morrison Government can be trusted to continue to invest the resources necessary to keep Australia safe and continue to strengthen the Australian Defence Force.

You can’t trust Labor – Shorten, the ‘Bill’ Australia cannot afford.