Image: An Arafura-class offshore patrol vessel (OPV) at the Osborne Naval Shipyards in Adelaide.




Budget Estimates exchanges:

Other information:

Parliamentary and Executive Service:

  • Assistant Minister for Defence (45th Parliament)
  • Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (JSCFADT): Chair (2016-2018; 2019-2022); Deputy Chair (2022-present); Member (various times between 2011 and 2022)
  • Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (SSCFADT) (legislative): member (2011-2016; 2016-2018; 2019-present)
  • Senate Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade (SSCFADT) (references): member (2011-2016; 2016-2018; 2022-present)

“[Senator Fawcett] is one of the most experienced and knowledge[able] Parliamentarians when it comes to military matters, especially regarding helicopters. He is a former Army test pilot and has flown many rotary-winged aircraft.  Senator Fawcett has a reputation for thoroughness and integrity, a consequence of which is that he is held in high regard by all sides of politics. He was also the former Assistant Defence Minister in the Morrison government.”

Kym Bergmann, Asia-Pacific Defence Reporter, 21 January 2024

Defence Capability and Supply Chain Resilience:

  • In 2023, I introduced a private senator’s bill—the Defence Capability Assurance and Oversight Bill 2023to establish an independent statutory body and related oversight bodies to conduct risk assessment to help ensure the speed, cost-effectiveness and reliability of defence acquisitions. That bill passed the Senate in February 2024 and has now moved to the House of Representatives.
  • During the COVID pandemic, I led an inquiry into the impact of COVID-19 on Australia’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade policies, including industry and supply chain resilience.
    • The report identified a need for a systemic approach to identifying and managing risk to ensure that Australia has resilience across key enablers such as our health, transport, food and defence sectors.
    • Since the release of the report, I have engaged with a wide range of stakeholders—including international counterparts—to raise awareness and support for changes that would strengthen our national resilience, as detailed by the report.
  • I have worked to promote a sovereign, continuous naval shipbuilding capacity in Australia—ensuring that we can both construct and maintain our own military vessels (including major warships and submarines) domestically and sustain a domestic industry with the relevant industry and technical skills.
    • In 2018, the Coalition Government announced that the Royal Australian Navy’s future Hunter-class frigates would be built at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide—at the time, the biggest investment in peacetime by an Australian Government in defence capability and the most significant modernisation of our navy since the Second World War.

Defence Industry Advocacy:

I have consistently argued that defence industry must be treated as a fundamental input to defence capability.

“Occasionally a Senator provides a powerful demonstration of the value of Senate Estimates hearings to lay bare the inconsistencies and contradictions that prevent governments from achieving their aims. Last week we witnessed just such a seminal performance by South Australian Liberal Senator David Fawcett who calmly and methodically uncovered the gulf between government intentions to build Australian defence industry and the reality of procurement policy which acts against just that.

It is difficult to distill 25 minutes of meticulous argument in a short article. So I would recommend that those interested watch Fawcett’s questioning of Stephen Moore, First Assistant Secretary Defence Industry Policy, Chris Deeble, Deputy Secretary Capability Acquisition and Sustainment Group (CASG) and Secretary of the Department of Finance, Greg Moriarty here.”

Peter Roberts, Australian Manufacturing Forum, 5 June 2023

  • Not only do I work closely with departmental and industry stakeholders to facilitate such an approach, as the Deputy Chair of the JSCFADT, I also lead key reports into defence industry and defence exports as a core defence responsibility.
  • One such report into defence exports, by the defence subcommittee of the JSCFADT, contributed to the Coalition Government’s ambitious plan to boost Australian defence exports and drive industry, investment and job creation through the Defence Export Strategy.
Supashock missile launcher capability.

Representing Australia:

  • I have been privileged to represent Australia in a range of defence and defence industry-related contexts both at home and abroad—for example, the Rim of the Pacific (RIMPAC) exercises, which were held between June and August 2018 in Hawaii and hosted by the United States Pacific Fleet. You can find out more about the exercises here: ADF successfully completes Exercise RIMPAC 2018 | Defence Ministers.

Bipartisan Defence Agreement:

  • In 2017, I tasked the defence sub-committee of the JSCFADT to inquire into the benefits and risks of a bipartisan Australian defence agreement as a basis for planning for, and funding of, Australian defence capability. The issue of bipartisanship on defence policy is one on which I have advocated for some time—proposing a model for Australia to improve the level of assurance to commanders that military equipment with be capable of doing what we expect and need it to do.
  • In 2023, the final report from the JSCFADT defence subcommittee’s inquiry into international armed conflict decision-making was released—recommending, among other things, the establishment a Joint Statutory Committee on Defence (similar to the model I had proposed). Later that same year, the Government accepted that recommendation.
RIMPAC Exercise, Hawaii.