Media Release: Labor's Defence Strategic Review

Shadow Minister for Defence


Wednesday 3 August 2022


The Shadow Defence Minister, the Hon Andrew Hastie MP today called on the Government to guarantee that the Defence Strategic Review will not lead to cuts to Defence spending or programs.

The Opposition is deeply concerned by the reports today that Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Defence Minister Richard Marles’ Review could lead to Defence acquisitions being “axed”, this would be a worrying return to form by a Labor Government which when last in power cut Defence spending to its lowest levels since 1938.

Shadow Minister Hastie said that the appointment of former Labor Defence Minister Stephen Smith to lead the review is a disgraceful politicisation of the Review.

“The Prime Minister has said this is the most complex strategic environment Australia has encountered – and what does he do? Appoint the man who oversaw the biggest cuts to Defence in 70 years to review Defence investment.”

“When Mr Smith was last in Government – he cut and cancelled Defence projects, delayed decisions, and dismissed warnings about the strategic environment Australia was heading into a decade ago,” said Shadow Minister Hastie.

“Our ADF need capability now, not more reviews and cuts. Labor must guarantee that they will not use this Review as a smokescreen for cuts and delay.”

When Labor was last in government, Mr Smith as Defence Minister allowed Defence spending to fall to its lowest level since 1938, he presided over $5.5 billion in cuts in the 2012 Budget alone. Mr Smith and Labor failed to heed warnings in 2012 that Australia could face a deteriorating strategic situation this decade.

By contrast, the Coalition in Government increased Defence spending to 2% of GDP and growing, we invested more than $270b into Defence Capability. The former Coalition Government embarked on the most significant national naval shipbuilding enterprise since World War Two.

Mr Albanese and Mr Marles must guarantee that there will be no cuts to Defence projects, and no cancelled capability in exchange for Budget savings.