The government has pledged over $100 million for two new patrol boats built in Western Australia and $150 million for 33 upgrade projects for neglected roads in remote areas over the long weekend.
Border security was underscored by the prime minister in his announcement on Monday that two Evolved Cape Class patrol boats would be added to another six owned by defence. The vessels, made by WA business Austal, are worth a total $440 million.
“My government’s record on keeping borders safe, supporting naval capability, and growing our defence industry is in stark contrast to Labor who never commissioned a new naval vessel, oversaw a border security failure, slashed defence spending to the lowest levels since before the Second World War and saw thousands of job losses in our defence industry,” Scott Morrison said.
The PM also noted local shipbuilding was an investment in domestic industry and economic strength.
Defence minister Peter Dutton said the patrol boats would lift capability to manage fisheries protection, immigration, customs and drug law enforcement operations.
“The Evolved Cape class patrol boats will reduce the risk in Navy’s transition from the ageing Armidale class patrol boat fleet to the new, more capable Arafura class offshore patrol vessels,” Dutton said.
“These extra boats will also enable Navy to transfer two of its Cape Class patrol boats to the ABF – further strengthening our border defences.”
This is the second day Morrison is campaigning in WA, with further funding commitments to a BMX centre and the local resources sector.
WA MP and defence industry minister Melissa Price said the state had some of the best shipbuilders in the world and the state defence industry was at the centre of the federal sovereign capability plan.
“This is a great shot in the arm for our shipbuilding skills and jobs pipeline with at least 68% of the contract value being invested in Australian industry,” Price said.
“This project is in addition to our planned investment of up to $30 billion in dozens of new vessels for our Navy that will be built in WA over the coming decades, supporting 2,000 WA jobs and hundreds of WA businesses in the supply chain.”
Barnaby Joyce, minister for infrastructure, transport and regional development said the roads funding would fix unsealed roads and other safety works. He said the Coalition’s 10-year infrastructure investment plan was made possible by the LNP government’s ‘strong economic management’.
“Improving remote roads will keep motorists safe and freight moving, ensuring regional businesses can continue to get their products to ports quickly and safely.
“This is part of our vision to make our nation as strong as possible as quickly as possible,” Joyce said.
The deputy prime minister also warned against Labor’s lack of plans for roads in remote and regional Australia, taking a swipe at Moreton MP Graham Perrett for a tweet published last year. Perrett had questioned how sensible it was to be investing in road upgrades on roads that had not had a grader on it since the 1930s.
What does Peter Dutton – the LNP’s most senior Qld Minister – say when Scott Morrison pays Qld flood victims less than NSW ones? He just says it’s a “gripe”. No wonder Morrison never delivers to Qld. pic.twitter.com/3iFv2as6Si
— Senator Murray Watt (@MurrayWatt) April 18, 2022
“Our government believes regional Australians deserve the same standard of living and opportunities as people living in capital cities,” Joyce said.
“That’s why we’re delivering much-needed upgrades to some of Australia’s neglected roads. Families living on farms shouldn’t face barriers to getting their kids to school, or visiting the grocery store,” he said.
On Sunday, the Coalition committed $31.5 million to mental health services over the next five years. In a bilateral agreement with the state government, the commonwealth said the WA Labor government would also invest $26.5 million to provide mental health support to children ($12.6million), those who were recovering from a suicide attempt ($40.4 million), and people experiencing eating disorders ($8.6 million).
Health minister Greg Hunt said the landmark partnership would have a significant impact for people suffering from mental health problems, especially those exacerbated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“It will help save lives and protect lives,” Hunt said in a statement.
The federal government spending commitment on mental health and suicide prevention services for 2022-23 has reached a record $6.8 billion.
David Coleman, assistant minister to the PM for mental health and suicide prevention, said the new agreement with the WA government was part of structural reforms delivered by the National Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Plan.
“We know the risk of suicide is greatest in the days and weeks following a previous suicide attempt, yet right now not everyone in this group receives follow up care.
“These people are amongst our most vulnerable and through this agreement we are committing to do everything we can to support them,” Coleman said.
The assistant minister added one of the agreement’s main changes would mean at least three months of appropriate follow-up care would be provided to people discharged from hospital following a suicide attempt in WA.