The Australian government will spend $3 billion to produce and deliver new products overseas, including the production of aircraft engines and aircraft parts.
The announcement was made today by Finance Minister Andrew Robb in the National Press Club.
Robb told the media that the $3-billion investment would be made by manufacturing plants in the United States, China, Germany, Italy, Britain, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia, and Singapore.
“It will mean that the United Kingdom will be one of the first to export its aircraft engines to Australia and will be the first country to export engines from Australia to the United Nations,” he said.
Australia’s decision to expand its export markets to new markets comes as the country prepares to take over a global role as the biggest supplier of military aircraft to the world.
Australian Defense Minister Mark Binskin told the Senate Defence Committee last month that Australia would begin manufacturing parts for the Lockheed Martin F-35 Lightning II fighter jet in 2019 and could begin the production process for the new F-18 fighter jets in 2021.
The announcement comes a week after Defence Minister Marise Payne said Australia would export its fighter jet engines to Saudi Arabia and Qatar for the first time.
Binskin said the new investment would also help to support the country’s international security, including supporting Australia’s presence in the U.S.-led anti-terrorism coalition.
He said the decision was based on the need to support Australia’s national security and the need for continued strategic partnership.
In a press conference, Robb said the $7-billion program would include the production and delivery of anaerobic digesters, the first large-scale production of an anaerobatic process in the world, as well as advanced anaerospace and industrial processes.
There would also be an expansion of our existing facilities, including our research and development and manufacturing centres, in Melbourne and Perth.
Under the program, Australia would spend $2 billion to establish a new facility in Melbourne to support our aerospace industry.
Labor said the move was the result of the Government’s “failure to deliver the full economic benefits of the planned increase in military spending”.
“The Prime Minister has made it clear that he wants to spend as much as possible on defence, but he is still ignoring the warnings of his own shadow defence minister that the Coalition has been spending too much on defence,” said Labor defence spokesman David Leyonhjelm.
A spokeswoman for the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade said the government had previously promised to spend up to $4 billion to support Australian jobs and industries, and that it would provide “comprehensive economic support”.
Robbo told the press that Australia has invested more than $300 billion in defence over the last decade, and there were now more than 30,000 jobs in the Australian defence industry.
“The decision today is the result, in large part, of our decision to invest in our defence capabilities,” he told the news conference.
The Federal Government’s defence budget has been cut from $7 billion to $6.6 billion.
Earlier this month, Defence Minister Rob Nicholson said Australia will continue to “stay ahead of the curve” in the face of climate change. ABC/AP