Statement: The Dribbled Release Of Defence Strategic Review

Saturday 22 April 2023

The Opposition notes the reporting from late Friday night concerning a dribbled selection of recommendations from the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) and significant changes to ADF capability programs, associated expenditure and timing.

While we wait for the anticipated release of the DSR on Monday, it's important to remember:

  • The Australian Defence Force was run into the ground by the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd governments over 2007-2013. As a member of the ADF during that period, I saw this decline in capability firsthand—both in Australia and on operations.
  • By 2013, chronic underinvestment, spending cuts and neglect had badly damaged capability and morale in the ADF.
  • Labor drove defence spending to its lowest levels since 1938—before World War II—to 1.56% of GDP.
  • It took the former Coalition Government nearly a decade to turn defence around and rebuild trust in our coalition partners.
  • Coalition Governments—not Labor—increased defence investment by 55% in real terms.
  • Coalition Governments—not Labor—increased ADF numbers, sharpened our capabilities, and restored fighting morale.
  • It was the Coalition who gave our soldiers, sailors and airmen a new sense of mission and purpose.
  • The Coalition grappled with the darkening strategic environment in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update.
  • We took action and landed the historic AUKUS agreement, took the tough decisions on helicopters, invested in cyber and space capabilities.
  • We began preparing Australia for the world we now live in, with hardheaded decisions to preserve our security and prosperity.

The Opposition will consider the findings and recommendations of the DSR when we have the details. It is concerning the Government is releasing ahead of their announcement on Monday dribbled selections of their DSR response, without their strategy for Australia’s defence.

The Opposition will always act in Australia's national interest in holding the Albanese Government to account for the big defence decisions that our deteriorating strategic circumstances demand.