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Australia aims to become major arms exporter

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Australia will aim to be a top 10 global defence exporter in the next decade.

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The Turnbull government unveiled the ambitious plan in Sydney on today.

The centrepiece is a $3.8 billion defence export facility within the government’s export credit agency to help companies get finance to underpin sales of equipment overseas.

A new defence export office will be set up, along with a special advocate and there will be grants to help small and medium business to compete internationally.

Australia is now ranked 20th in global defence industry exports and its market is valued between $1.5 billion and $2.5 billion a year.

The Coalition wants to boost that further and push Australia into the top 10 rankings.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says the plan will unlock jobs and investment.

“We are underdone in terms of our defence industry historically,” Turnbull told reporters in Sydney.

“What this is all about is ensuring that we maximise the opportunities for Australian jobs, Australian technology, Australian innovation.”

He pointed to the success story of Thales Australia’s Bushmaster armoured vehicles made in Bendigo, Victoria and exported to countries such as Japan and Netherlands.

Thales Australia chief executive Chris Jenkins says the plan will help generate industry confidence, and praised “world-leading technologies” manufactured in Australia.

“It is not second-rate stuff. Australia has got some of the smartest, most capable and skilled workforces in the world,” he said.

Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne says the plan will help the defence industry see through peaks and troughs and establish long-term investments in their equipment.

“It gives us the chance to be a serious global player,” he told reporters.

Priority markets for Australian arms include the US, Canada, the UK, and New Zealand as well as expanding sales into the Middle East and the Indo-Pacific.

Defence Minister Marise Payne says there are safeguards in place to ensure Australian defence exports don’t fall into the wrong hands.

But Australian Greens senator Nick McKim says it is a disgusting announcement.

“They want Australia to become a mass exporter of violence, a mass exporter of death, a mass exporter of human misery,” McKim said.

– AAP

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