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Ozzie Opposition Explodes Defence White Paper


Ozzie Opposition Explodes Defence White Paper

MEDIA RELEASE MINISTER FOR DEFENCE The Hon. Peter Reith

8 March 2001 MIN 045/01

Opposition Explodes White Paper

The Federal Opposition has admitted that if it wins Government it will alter the spending commitments of the Defence White Paper to enable the purchase of two additional Collins class submarines.

I have asked Opposition Leader Kim Beazley for two weeks to explain how he could remain committed to the White Paper procurement program but also plan to expend between $1 billion and $1.5 billion on two submarines.

Today the West Australian newspaper reveals that a spokesman for Mr Beazley says that the submarines will be purchased "out of the global Defence budget. Funding for other items would be cut."

Mr Beazley now must explain to the Australian people and the Defence community which of the White Paper commitments he secretly plans to jettison.

To remain within the global Defence budget he will have to make wholesale changes to the procurement or personnel program.

He may intend to: * Abandon plans for improved body armour, night vision goggles, communications equipment and additional weapons for soldiers (saving approx. $500 million) * Abandon plans for two additional Army battalions totalling 3000 soldiers (saving approx. $1 billion per year) * Abandon plans for the ANZAC frigate upgrades (saving approx. $500 million) * Abandon plans for 24 Army reconnaissance helicopters (saving approx. $1.5 billion)

Mr Beazley has committed the Opposition to support the program of expenditure outlined in the Defence White Paper. I call on him to honour those commitments and abandon plans to destroy the integrity of the White Paper.

For further information contact: Ross Hampton 0419 484 095

MINISTER FOR DEFENCE Leader of the House of Representatives

Parliament House, Canberra ACT 2600. Tel: (02) 6277 7800 Fax (02) 6273 4118

ENDS

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