Statement On Appointment To Shadow Ministry

Australia faces a difficult and uncertain strategic environment.

Authoritarian powers are flexing their muscles. The aggressive challenge to our RAAF P-8 by a Chinese J-16 fighter on May 26 is a reminder:

Personal diplomacy is not enough: we must be strong.

I am therefore honoured to be appointed as the Shadow Minister for Defence.

I thank the Leader of the Opposition, Peter Dutton, for the opportunity to serve in this role.

The first duty of the Australian Government is to protect our people, values, interests, and sovereignty.

That is why the Australian Defence Force must be strong, agile, and resilient.

It must be able to defend us—if called upon—and prevail in the toughest war-fighting scenario.

For that, it must have clear strategic direction from government.

It must be well led—by both elected officials and its officers.

It must be well-equipped with the latest capabilities, in a timely and efficient manner.

And it must be singularly focused on its ‘no-fail’ mission: to defend Australia from those who would do us harm.

I wish the Albanese government success in making these things happen, but Labor’s past record of poor leadership and budget cuts was damaging to the ADF and its morale.

The Coalition started the biggest rebuild of the ADF since World War Two, but we will not take its continued success for granted.

My task is to hold the government accountable.

We cannot afford to be weak, slow, or passive in Defence. Weakness is provocative.

I will be watching this government closely, as will the other capable Shadow Ministers in the Defence and Veterans portfolios—including Barnaby Joyce, Luke Howarth, and Phillip Thompson.