My understanding is that these contracts will be awarded to give best value to the nation as a whole and not to support a specific state-based industry on the basis that if it does not get the contract, the industry will fold.
No West Australian wants to see our state lose an industry ” we have lost far too many already ” but we need to be competitive.
The responsibility for bidding for and winning defence contracts lies with the state government. It has to compete with all other states and make our case.
Not since the Burke government have we had a minister specifically dedicated to this task.
Mal Bryce, as well as being deputy premier, held the portfolio of Minister for Industrial Development, Technology and Defence Liaison.
The Barnett Government needs a minister dedicated to the task of developing a defence manufacturing capability in our state and selling it to Defence Minister David Johnston and Cabinet.
I believe that Minister Johnston does very clearly understand the need to maintain a naval shipbuilding capability in Australia and the continuity of construction, but his battles are with Treasury and Cabinet.
The Premier needs to give him something to take to the table because we can be certain that all the other premiers will be making their strongest case possible.
With the death of vehicle manufacturing in Australia, I seriously doubt our capability to produce a high volume of basic military vehicles at short notice. We do not want shipbuilding to go the same way.