Papalia says national naval shipbuilding plan a ‘slap in the face’ for WA

Paul Papalia.
Paul Papalia.

THE $89 billion national naval shipbuilding plan is a “slap in the face” for WA’s defence industry, according to Warnbro MLA and Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia.

Earlier this week, Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne and Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said it was Australia’s largest program of naval shipbuilding and sustainment.

“The Turnbull government will invest more than $1.3 billion to modernise construction shipyards in South Australia and WA,” Mr Pyne said.

“Work will commence this year on the development of infrastructure at the Osborne Naval Shipyard in South Australia. The Henderson Maritime Precinct in WA will also be upgraded.”

He said $530 million would be invested in Osborne South, “about the same on the submarine yard at Osborne North, and then the $230 million for the entire area, the common user facility and all the land around the ASC, as this is a 100-year project”.

Mr Turnbull said it was a great nation building enterprise.

“This is an end to the boom and bust pattern that we’ve seen with shipbuilding in Australia,” he said.

“The commitment to naval shipbuilding here in this state (SA) is the largest commitment of Commonwealth investment in any single state in the Commonwealth’s history.”

Defence Minister Marise Payne said Henderson had been identified for project work on small naval vessels in a review carried out by the Rand Corporation, based on the work that had already been done there and the size of the workforce.

But Mr Papalia said WA had only received a small part of the national infrastructure spend.

He said of the $1.3 billion slated for naval-related industrial infrastructure and sustainment, WA had received just $100 million so far.

“It is less of a national shipbuilding plan and more of a South Australian shipbuilding plan,” Mr Papalia said.

Rockingham Kwinana Chamber of Commerce chief executive Tony Solin said the Henderson area was critical to growth in the local economy.

“Business growth that is already beginning on the back of future defence government funding here is quite significant,” Mr Solin said.

“The RKCC will continue to support and promote our local businesses and liaise with the Australian Defence Force and contractors to maximise the use of local content.”

Mr Papalia said WA had the skills and experience to contribute to the construction of the nine new future frigates and 12 future submarines.

“The plan also outlines that South Australia will need to increase its current employment levels by three times to deal with the additional work but WA already has a highly skilled workforce ready to go,” he said.

Mr Papalia said the sustainment work to be undertaken in WA for the future frigates and submarines was decades away and would not provide immediate jobs.

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