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AUSTRALIA AIMS TO BECOME 'MAJOR ARMS EXPORTER'

29-01-2018
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Following on from Christopher Pyne's 2017 comments on Australia's big future in arms exports, the Turnbull government has revealed plans for a AU$3.8 billion fund that will offer loans to local arms manufacturers. 

The government is optimistic that this push towards increased activity in the arms manufacturing sector will create "tens of thousands" of jobs over the lifetime of the program, which is called the Defence Export Facility.

"We sell a veritable welter of [defence] products, but we haven't really taken it to the next level, which is to seriously compete in the world for a part of what is a $1.5 trillion part of the world economy," said Pyne.

He emphasised that Australia would focus on growing sales to its biggest markets including the United States, Britain, Canada and New Zealand, which already import Australian-made equipment including the Bushmaster armoured vehicle and the Nulka missile decoy.

The Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the government aimed for Australia to become one of the world's top 10 exporters of weapons within a decade.

Australia currently is ranked 20th in arms exports with a 0.3 percent share of the global market, with defence exports worth about $2 billion a year.

"Given the size of our defence budget, we should be a lot higher up the scale," Turnbull said.

"The goal is to get into the top 10. That is the ambition," the prime minister continued. 

The government's push on arms sales will also see a special exports division created within the Department of Defence. 

 The Labor opposition suggested it would back the government's plan. 

"I'm very supportive of any proposal that creates jobs, that's the starting point" senior Labor MP Anthony Albanese told ABC Radio. 

He said defence industry was "important" but accused the Turnbull Government for neglecting other kinds of advanced manufacturing in the automotive and renewable energy industries. 

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