Coronavirus Australia live update: Daniel Andrews says 'now is the time to open up' after Victoria records no Covid cases

By Nino Bucci (now) and Amy Remeikis (earlier)

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The federal government has underspent nearly $7bn on the defence capital program since the 2016 defence white paper, according to analysis presented to an estimates hearing today.

The underspend has been blamed on a range of things including reallocating some of the funds to meet staff cost “pressures” and to fund the national redress scheme, along with revamping the timing of major projects.

The Labor senator Penny Wong presented analysis, produced by the opposition based on budget papers, indicating there had been a total underspend of $6.7bn (or 6.8%) in the defence capital program between 2016-17 and 2022-23.

Wong said defence spending had been “announced with much fanfare by this government” in the 2016 white paper but the reality was different (adding to a theme that is becoming a major feature of the opposition’s messaging):

“We’ve had big announcements but the delivery has been compromised by failure to actually ensure the budget has been spent on acquiring the capability that has been announced.”

The defence minister, Linda Reynolds, said the government had approved more than 400 defence capability-related decisions since 2016 and was seeking to apply good budget management as projects progressed.

Steven Groves, the chief finance officer for the defence department, indicated about $500m of the reported underspend related to foreign exchange-related adjustments, $600m represented transfers to the Australian Signals Directorate, and $2.5bn related to government and defence priority changes.

That $2.5bn included $900m moved to labour expenses because “we had pressures in other parts of the budget”. Defence reallocated $200m to contribute to the national redress scheme because the government expected it to manage those funds within the overall defence funding envelope.

In terms of rejigging the timing and funding profile of major projects, Groves said the 2016 white paper had featured a “level of ambition” about spending ramping up that had to be adjusted as things progressed.

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Scott Morrison responds to Melbourne reopening

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