Michelle Grattan, University of Canberra
The Morrison government is accelerating and repurposing defence spending in a A$1 billion boost to support about 4,000 jobs and assist small and medium-sized businesses in the defence industry supply chain.
In several workforce initiatives worth about $80 million, up to 210,000 more days will be available to give supplementary employment to Australian Defence Force reservists, some of whom have lost civilian income. There are 27,000 ADF active reservists.
Five hundred more reservists will be recruited, which could help people with part time employment who have lost their primary employment due to businesses closing and the restrictions.
The ADF will slow or delay the transition of personnel out of the force for medical reasons, subject to medical advice. There will also be support for ADF partners to find work.
A $300 million “defence estate” program, supporting up to 2,200 jobs, will speed up work scheduled for defence facilities around the country. Some of the areas to benefit suffered in the bush fires.
The program will take in the RAAF bases East Sale, Pearce, Wagga and Amberley, as well as Jervis Bay and Eden, the Albury Wodonga Military Area, and Blamey Barracks. This builds on an announcement made in May.
About $190 million will be invested in bringing forward seven infrastructure projects in the Northern Territory, involving Robertson Barracks, RAAF Base Darwin, Larrakeyah Defence Precinct, and the Delamere Air Weapons Range.
Another $200 million will be spent on “sustainment of existing capabilities and platforms” including the upgrade of Bushmaster protected mobility vehicles, modernisation of ADF uniforms, and extra C-27J maintenance. The last will provide work for 23 former Qantas engineering and technical workers, and 14 ex-Virgin technical peronnel.
The uniform modernisation will speed up the delivery of “a contemporary, practical Navy uniform”.
Accelerating various projects to develop and deliver capability will cost $200 million and give work in the areas of manufacturing, construction and high tech.
About $110 million will be allocated to defence innovation, industry grants, skilling and micro credentialling and cyber training.
Scott Morrison, who will formally announce the package on Wednesday, said that like other parts of the economy the local defence industry was “doing it tough”.
“Supporting our defence industry is all part of our JobMaker plan – especially high-paying, high-skilled jobs that ensure we are supporting a robust, resilient and internationally competitive defence industry, ” he said.
“We will also support our ADF members and families, particularly any reservists who are doing it tough because of COVID-19.”
Michelle Grattan, Professorial Fellow, University of Canberra
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