WESTERN Australia remains in the dark over how much work it will secure from recently announced ship and submarine programs, despite the federal minister for the division making the state his first stop on a national defence tour.
In April the Federal Government announced a $40 billion investment in Australia’s shipbuilding sector, with most of work heading to South Australia.
Henderson shipbuilder Austal received a $500 million contract to build 21 Pacific patrol boats.
Work on new offshore patrol vessels will begin in Adelaide and move to WA, but only when construction on the latest frigates begins in South Australia in 2020.
That was followed by news the Royal Australian Navy’s new fleet of submarines worth $50 billion would also be built in Adelaide.
WA Opposition spokesman for defence issues Paul Papalia said the state had been short-changed.
Like Labor leader Mark McGowan in May, Mr Papalia argued WA needed its own advisory board tasked with securing a greater share of future defence contracts.
Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne talked up the capability of WA and the country as a whole during a visit to Henderson’s Australian Marine Complex last week.
But he did not provide a breakdown of how much of the $90 billion of work would come to WA.
“I haven’t broken down the percentages,” he said.
When pressed, Mr Pyne said: “I’m not playing that game of how much everyone got and if it was a fair share.
“The defence industry is not just based in Henderson and Osborne (South Australia). It’s spread throughout the nation.
“Maintenance and sustainment is in many cases worth even more than the actual building of the vessels themselves.”
State Commerce Minister Michael Mischin said he was concerned about the lack of work heading to WA but had been reassured work on the new patrol boats would come to WA and was confident at least some of the new subs would be maintained in WA.
“It is a national endeavour and we are going to be a part of that,” he said.
“Now you can quibble about whether we could have got a percentage more, a percentage less or whether that could have gone somewhere else.
“But I’m looking at the positives here; our abilities have been recognised, we are going to be part of this project and the capacity that will be expanded here in WA is going to be very important.”
What they had to say about Minister Pyne’s visit last week
Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union WA state secretary Steve McCartney: “Colin Barnett has a poor record lobbying his Liberal mates in Canberra for local WA jobs. I think they, like the WA public, don’t take him seriously.
Austal chief executive David Singleton: “Austal has a proven track record of successfully delivering innovative defence vessel platforms for the world’s leading naval fleets. As Australia’s only global prime defence contractor, Austal supports and is looking forward to participating in the Australian Government’s shipbuilding plan.”
Civmec managing director Mike Deeks: “Civmec continues to pursue opportunities across the major naval projects. We have recently formed Forgacs Marine and Defence as a wholly owned subsidiary of Civmec, which will be the vehicle through which Civmec pursues its marine and defence opportunities. The combination of Civmec’s integrated, multi-disciplined construction and engineering services and Forgacs’ marine engineering and shipbuilding heritage mean we have capabilities and experience well suited to allowing us to play a significant role in future naval acquisitions and subsequent through life support. The size and shape of the specific role we will play is yet to be determined and will only become apparent after the CASG-led tendering and selection processes for the various projects.”
BAE Systems chief executive Glynn Phillips: “The visit to our site was a great opportunity for the Minister to see first-hand the work that we’re doing upgrading the ANZAC class ships and the capabilities that we have developed at Henderson and how this facility could contribute to the programs within the Commonwealth Government’s national shipbuilding enterprise. The complexity of the work being undertaken as part of the Anti-Ship Missile Defence program at the Henderson site is considerable; we’re equipping these ships with a world leading defence capability. The work we do at Henderson complements the support we provide across Australia maintaining the Royal Australian Navy’s fleet of ANZAC Class Frigates, the Landing Helicopter Docks, as well as the Adelaide Class Frigates, Minehunters and the Hydrographic Fleet. BAE Systems has considerable maritime skills and proven experience, together with an energised supply chain of more than 1700 Australian SMEs ready to contribute to the Commonwealth Government’s National Shipbuilding Enterprise.”