But there was disappointment with Western Australia’s small share of the $40 billion investment in Australia’s shipbuilding sector, which should create 2500 jobs.
Construction of 12 offshore patrol vessels, a program worth about $3 billion, will begin in Adelaide in two years.
Construction will move to WA when work to build nine frigates begins in Adelaide in 2020, a program the Government says is worth about $35 billion.
Austal, based at the Australian Marine Complex, has been lined up to build 21 replacement steel-hulled Pacific patrol boats.
The vessels will replace the existing Pacific patrol boat fleet, used to assist Pacific Island countries in securing their Exclusive Economic Zones.
Contracts are yet to be signed but the deal should be worth about $500 million, with an extra $400 million for through-life support. More than 130 local jobs will be created.
Premier Colin Barnett said the announcement recognised the State’s capability in the naval shipbuilding sector and was a boost for the economy.
“WA has a strong reputation in these highly competitive and demanding markets and today’s announcement is recognition of this,” he said.
Austal chief executive David Singleton said his company was delighted to be selected as preferred builder.
“Austal has delivered Australia’s entire border patrol capability – comprising 30 vessels delivered over the past 17 years – and we look forward to extending this by constructing and servicing vessels that will be used by many of our neighbours in the South Pacific,” he said.
But State Opposition Leader Mark McGowan was quick to say WA had been ripped off.
“Once again we’re all paying the price for the Liberals not having a plan for jobs,” he said.
“We should have been in there lobbying hard for our fair share.”
Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union State secretary Steve McCartney was also critical of the State Government.
“Of course we welcome new naval shipbuilding work for Western Australia; our union has campaigned for it for years,” he said.
“But WA could have done much better if Colin Barnett had put his shoulder to the wheel like they did in South Australia.”