Shipbuilders on project watch

Steve McCartney
Steve McCartney

South Australia was the big winner, with Prime Minister Tony Abbott announcing the country�s future frigates would be built in the state, with a competitive evaluation process to begin in October.

The Government also announced it would push forward construction of its replacement patrol boats, to commence in 2018.

The �third major pillar� of its plan is the SEA 1000 submarine program, with France, Germany and Japan competing for the contract.

While the Government did not mention work at Henderson�s Australian Marine Complex last week, Australian Manufacturing Worker�s Union state secretary Steve McCartney said keeping work in Australia was a start.

�If navy ships are being built in Adelaide, this is usually a good sign for WA manufacturing,� he said. �Anything is better than sending this offshore, however the devil will be in the detail.�

Mr McCartney said he was chasing confirmation the vessels would be designed and built in Australia, not just assembled from European or Japanese parts.

�These ships are made from modules, which means there�s no technical reason WA couldn�t do some of this work,� he said.

�A 20-year pipeline for South Australia must come with opportunities for the rest of Australia to get into the supply chain.�

WA Liberal Senator Linda Reynolds said underperforming states, including South Australia, needed to reform and become more competitive.

�Major defence projects, like the procurement of naval vessels must be awarded on merit, and states should not rely on these projects as yet another form of economic subsidy,� she said.

Local ship builder Austal, which counts the US Navy among its clients, remained positive.

Chief executive Andrew Bellamy said last week WA was well positioned to deliver Australia�s offshore patrol vessels.

�There are great opportunities in both the future frigate and the offshore patrol vessel programs for Australian shipbuilders, including in WA where the local industry has built all the Commonwealth�s patrol boats for the past 17 years as well as supporting major upgrades to the Anzac Frigates and sustainment of the Collins submarines,� he said.