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Advanced Manufacturing and Defence Industries – Political Communications

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP

Dr Rosalie Woodruff MP  -  Thursday, 8 June 2023

Tags: Violence, State Budget

Dr WOODRUFF - Minister, it is one thing to support an advanced manufacturing and defence industry and it is quite another thing to actively promote machines whose sole purpose is to kill people. I don't know if you have seen this tweet by Jeremy Rockliff of a tank, and he says in some jolly orange writing, 'We're building these on the coast. It 's been in our DNA for generations. Today we are backing Elphinstone as they take on some of their biggest projects yet and I could not be prouder of them.' Green love heart.

We were appalled. Does that ring a wrong note to you, because it sure rang a wrong note to us?

Ms OGILVIE - Is there a question?


Ms OGILVIE - What is your question?

Dr WOODRUFF - Do you have a problem with promoting machines that are designed with the sole purpose of killing people with such joy and green love hearts?

Ms OGILVIE - I am very pleased to be minister for Defence Industries. Defence industries is at such a critical juncture in Australia and our defence forces and the people who work in our defence forces have a right, and we have an obligation to ensure that they have the best equipment they can have. Elphinstone is a very well-regarded and respected organisation in Tasmania and we are pleased to be able support them to do this retooling and re-engineering that they need to do. It is close to everybody's hearts to make sure that we have organisations and companies that are on a sustainable footing and can provide these sorts of defence industries manufacturing capabilities. Mr Gilmore would probably like to add some information to -

Dr WOODRUFF - No, this is a political question and it's about the framing of you, actually. So, thank you, but I don't need that extra bit of information.

Where we are in Australia, on the planet, is wars are being waged every single day. We, as a country, support the provision of arms to support Ukraine in their struggle against the illegal invasion by the Russian government, and rightly so. There's a big difference, however, to normalising war as a modus operandi. And that's where we are in Australia. There's increasing concern about being marched along a pathway to war with countries when we should be doing all the diplomatic things that we can to avoid that. We are really concerned and we think you should be too, as a minister of a government that's responsible for, first and foremost, promoting peace and non-violence, diplomacy. Championing the building of war machines in such a public and light hearted way, particularly designed with love hearts, just seems a bit sick. Are you concerned -

Ms OGILVIE - I couldn’t agree more that peace and diplomacy is essential, not just organised diplomacy at national and international level but the soft diplomacy we do. During the pandemic times, as people were restricted to their home countries, we lost some of that. So, I can agree with you that diplomacy is always the best approach.

In relation to why we invest in this sector, it is important that we get some of the benefit of the spend that is coming through the federal government. It does provide jobs. It does provide expertise and competence that we need here in Tasmania. And the people who get those jobs - the welders and the everyday people who play footy on the weekend and they go and work, perhaps in the mines, or perhaps at Elphinstone, they're really good everyday people and I'll back them all the time. I want to make sure that Tasmania -

Dr WOODRUFF - Will you have a chat to the Premier about his media unit? Will you let him know that it sends a chill through the hearts of some people who feel as though he's being light hearted about the matter of war? He needs to have a chat to his public media unit. He needs to improve his social media because it's got his name on it.

Ms OGILVIE - It's good that you're that engaged with that conversation. I've had people who've recommended that they could run my diary better or they could do something else better, and I'm sure we'll have more of those conversations.

From my personal perspective, I take the issue of international diplomacy, Tasmania's relationships, both commercial and trade, within Australia and externally very seriously. Tasmania is a maritime state and in my electorate we have the maritime defence sector. We are building ships. It's fantastic. We're building craft that everybody wants. That's all I was going to ask the Defence Advocate to talk about, the boats that we're building, which are amazing. I hear your concern and I'm happy to relay that.

From my perspective, diplomacy, trade, exchange of ideas and information, coming to the table, working with our colleagues and allies, supporting people who need help like the poor people in the Ukraine is certainly something that I turn my mind to.