Australia’s daggy dad prime minister showed his maverick spirit during a defence announcement near Newcastle today — not by what he said but by what was heard before he arrived.
Scott Morrison toured a Hunter Valley RAAF base on Monday, before announcing Australia’s F-35A fighter jets had been inducted at the BAE Systems Australia maintenance depot.
But it was his entrance music that caught attention.
Mr Morrison walked in with Kenny Loggins’ 80s smash hit Danger Zone, from the Top Gun soundtrack, blaring in the background.
In fact, because he was late to the press conference, the classic was actually played twice.
In case anyone missed the reference, the PM took the idea into the stratosphere with this comment: “Everyone who’s involved in this project is a top gun in my view.”
He also posed for photographers in the cockpit of a jet, indicating strongly he felt the need for speed.
Mr Morrison was joined by his wingwoman Defence Minister Linda Reynolds to announce the induction of Australia 33-strong F-35A fleet.
He said the development strengthened the “world-leading” Australian local defence force industry.
“This is about protecting and securing Australia’s interests but it’s also creating jobs and driving investment right here in the Hunter and across the country too,” he said.
“We want to give as many opportunities to Australian companies as possible which is why there’s already more than 50 local companies sharing in $2.7 billion worth of contracts as part of the F-35 Program.”
The government expected the depot to support roughly 750 jobs by 2050.
The induction is part of a $65bn joint fighter program, with the government making the defence industry a central plank of its COVID-19 economic recovery plan.
BAE has also hired 25 ex-Jetstar employees made redundant when the pandemic hit the airline industry.
Defence Industry Minister Mel Price said retaining the group in the Hunter Aviation industry was a boost for the local economy, and strengthened Australia’s defence capabilities.
“It’s so wonderful today to have met the star workers who, through no fault of their own through to COVID, lost their jobs,” Defence Industry Minister Mel Price said.
“(They’re) highly qualified, highly skilled, and we need them in our defence industry … We’re just so pleased to have them.”
The facility has been selected as the maintenance, repair, overhaul and upgrade depot for Southeast Asia, and was set to host other nations’ F-35 aircraft.
Four aircraft were set to undergo maintenance at the facility by the end of the year.