26 February 2020
Taking Note of Answers - Special Purpose Flights
I promise you, Deputy President, I will stick to the topic because this is an important topic: taking note of answers by the Minister for Defence, Senator Reynolds, to a question by Senator Wong, regarding these special purpose aircraft. The minister has routinely tabled the schedule of special purpose flights late. In fact, the most recent ones were tabled eight months after they were due. Why? Is she incapable of being transparent? Is that what we should learn to expect of her? It is what we expect of her because it is just one example in a long, long line of examples of her failure of transparency in this place.
It is another example of her complete and utter failure to be upfront with the Senate and upfront with the Australian people—just as she is failing to be upfront with the people of South Australia. Let's not forget the submarine-sized elephant in the room here, in that she is refusing to come clean on the government's intentions with the Future Submarine jobs in South Australia—my home state. In fact, I'm still waiting, Minister Reynolds, for a response to the letter I wrote to you in August last year, regarding the full cycle docking maintenance work in Adelaide. It has been seven months. Is eight months the magic number? Because eight months is what they've got with these special purpose flights. Is eight months the magic number? I've been waiting seven months for a response to my letter about these jobs in my state of South Australia. Will I be waiting longer? Will I ever get a response from the minister? My state has been waiting for an answer; I have been waiting for an answer. It is absolutely pathetic. This minister could not care less about transparency. She could not care less about giving an answer, and she could not care less about jobs in my state.
To be very, very clear, these jobs were meant for South Australia. They belong in South Australia, and there is no justification at all to take them out of South Australia. We're not talking about a new procurement process here. We are talking about jobs that already exist in my state. They're jobs which families rely upon. Collins class full cycle docking has been based at the Osborne shipyard in Adelaide since 2003. These are jobs which South Australian families need. We're talking about hundreds of direct jobs, not to mention thousands of indirect jobs. They're jobs which affect business confidence in my state. They're jobs which affect the future of my state. Let us not pretend the other side cares at all for jobs in South Australia. There are not many marginal seats anymore—is that it? Is it that there's nothing to rort? You don't care about jobs in my state, but you can't just keep dragging us through this, expecting us to stay silent and expecting us to take it. We lost Holden on your watch. We lost car manufacturing in my state on your watch.
The DEPUTY PRESIDENT: Senator Smith, you started off on topic. It is taking note of questions from Senator Wong to Senator Reynolds.
Yes, and I am getting to the point of transparency, which is what this question came to. The question of transparency extends to a record of this minister. It is a pattern of behaviour which explains her failure to answer questions today. It explains her failure to answer questions of Senator Wong. It is a pattern. It is the same pattern we are seeing in her portfolio when it comes to these jobs in my state—that is, when it comes to submarine jobs in South Australia. I've been waiting seven months for a response to my letter. Senator Wong has been waiting eight months for a response to the matter in question. Do we mean so little to you? Does transparency mean so little to you? Do the people of South Australia and jobs in my state mean so little to you that you don't even bother to answer?
There is no more pressing issue in South Australia for the people of my state than these jobs. Why won't you answer our calls for certainty? Why won't you be transparent to us? Why won't you tell these workers what their future holds? Why won't you tell them if they're going to have a job? Why won't you tell them? Be honest to the people of South Australia and, for once, stand up for jobs in my state. Stand up for submarine workers in my state of South Australia. That is what we expect of you: transparency and fairness. We want to know if these jobs, which belong in my state, are going to be there.