Press Conference Williamtown

10 Dec 2018 Transcipt


Press conference

10 December 2018

SUBJECTS: F-35A program

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Thank you very much to his Excellency, the Governor-General; to his Excellency the Governor of New South Wales; to my parliamentary colleagues, ministerial colleagues, Steve Ciobo and David Fawcett; to my parliamentary colleagues, Mike Kelly and Meryl Swanson; to the Chief of Defence Force; the Secretary of the Department of Defence; and particularly, the Chief of the Air Force. To Leo Davies, it’s a very proud day for the Air Force, and you must be extremely proud. Congratulations to you.

We throw the word historic around in politics pretty liberally, and in general, but when the first of type or the first of class of something as significant as the largest purchase in the Air Force’s history lands in Australia for the first time, that, seriously, is an historic day. The F-35A program has been in the making for 16 years – that means several secretaries of Defence, chiefs of the Defence Force, Prime Ministers, even ministers for Defence, chiefs of the Air Force have played their part in ensuring that we have got to this point of where the F-35A starts to be based here in Williamtown and later at Tindal. That’s a tremendous achievement. And along with our partners at Lockheed Martin - it’s great to have them here - and from the joint project office in Washington. What this proves to us all is that Australia is capable of creating and sustaining a very important air force, a very significant military capability, and delivering a project as large as $17 billion; and the largest acquisition of a air force platform in our history, and certainly, the most significant in our peacetime history as part of the Australian Government’s build-up of its military capability, which at the moment, is the largest in our peacetime history.

So I want to congratulate everyone who’s been associated with this project and I ask everyone to remember that what we are doing by adding to our military capability is protecting our people, our nation; giving our service men and women the capability that they need to win so that when they go into theatre, they come back alive to see their families as we saw only a few moments ago. Our priority is to be able to maintain our national interests; to defend our national interests; to be a good ally if called upon to do so. It’s something we’ve been doing for 118 years, and most particularly since the beginning of the First World War, it’s one of the defining characteristics of our nation and I’m very proud to be here on what is an historic day to be part of the continuation of that tradition. Thank you.