Previous Ministry - Defence
MINISTER FOR DEFENCE
Senator John Faulkner is no stranger to Defence.
Early in his Parliamentary career he served as both Minister for Defence Science and Personnel, and Veterans’ Affairs Minister. In these positions he worked hard with the Veterans community to improve pension systems and health benefits. He also introduced the new Military Compensation Scheme in March 1994 and oversaw the War Memorial and War Graves Commission organization of the Entombment of the Unknown Soldier ceremony on November 11 1993. http://www.awm.gov.au/commemoration/keating.asp
As Leader of the Opposition in the Senate, from 1996 to 2004, John Faulkner took a strong interest in defence matters. He served as a member of the Senate Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee, where he quizzed Howard Government Ministers and officials in Senate enquiries and hearings on a raft of Defence issues. During this period he played an important role in the 2002 Senate Inquiry into A Certain Maritime Incident, which investigated the claims by the former Government that asylum seekers had thrown their children overboard.
Senator Faulkner was appointed Australia’s Defence Minister in June 2009. In this position he oversaw the $26 billion annual Defence budget, and the management of the 93,000 strong workforce, which includes 77,000 permanent and reserve servicemen and women, and 16,000 public servants.
The most critical responsibilities of the Defence portfolio are our Defence operations where Australian troops are involved, particularly Afghanistan and East Timor.
The Defence Minister is also responsible for strategic defence decisions and major capability acquisitions, through the National Security Committee of the Cabinet.
As Minister, Senator Faulkner oversaw the important Defence Strategic Reform Program. In this program the Government is streamlining defence programs to deliver savings of $20 billion over the next 10 years. These savings will be reinvested in necessary equipment and capability upgrades.
Following the Defence 2009 White Paper developed by Senator Faulkner’s predecessor, Joel Fitzgibbon MP, in addition to the strategic reform program, Defence is also conducting a force structure review.
Reform of the Military Justice system is also underway, after a High Court decision in 2009 found the Australian Military Court, established by the previous Government, was unconstitutional.
At present the Defence capability program is accelerating. Senator Faulkner worked closely on capability issues with the former Minister for Defence Personnel, Materiel and Science, Greg Combet MP, who had responsibility for the management of acquisitions.
Australia is currently building three new air warfare destroyers, upgrading its aging jet fighter capacity with new Superhornets and the F35 Joint Strike Fighter program, and is in the early stages of determining the way forward for a future submarine fleet.
Defence is a tough and challenging portfolio. As the 2009 Defence White Paper states:
As Defence Minister, John Faulkner focused on making the right decisions to help Australia build a defence capability that enables us to play our role in the region, and in international operations.
On 7 July 2010 John Faulkner announced that he would step down as Defence Minister and return to the backbench after the upcoming Federal Election. Following the re-election of the Gillard Government, he was succeeded by former Foreign Minister, Stephen Smith, on 14 September 2010.