Minister for Defence Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith has called for the Federal Government to rule out a hybrid or overseas build of the nation’s next generation of submarines, insisting that building the entire fleet in Australia was the only way to secure the future of the country’s shipbuilding industry.
“The Turnbull Government must back Australian workers and re-commit to building the entire submarine fleet in Australia,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said in a media statement.
“Defence strategists and economic experts agree that eight submarines will only provide a project, whereas 12 submarines will secure a sustainable industry.”
He said South Australia possessed both the infrastructure and the know-how to deliver the entire project regardless of the design selected through the Government’s competitive evaluation process, which closed on Monday.
“South Australia is also home to Techport Australia, the nation’s flagship naval shipbuilding precinct. It is the logical place to build submarines in Australia, and South Australia is ready to partner with all stakeholders to deliver the capability.”
The Minister also urged the Government to reveal how many submarines it requested in the competitive evaluation process and to urgently release the delayed Defence White Paper and costed naval shipbuilding plan.
“The competitive evaluation process has closed – the Federal Government now has an opportunity to provide certainty to Australia’s shipbuilding industry and immediately rule out a hybrid or overseas build. This would save time and expense,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
“As the next generation of submarines and Future Frigates build are years away, South Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry also needs the Offshore Patrol Vessel project to be fast tracked and built in Adelaide. The valley of death is with us now – the Offshore Patrol Vessel build would provide jobs for workers coming off the Air Warfare Destroyer project and enable them to maintain their skills.”
He said the SA Government will continue talking with the three bidders – Germany, France and Japan – to maximise opportunities the state’s industry in the Future Submarine program during the evaluation period.
“Through in-country delegations and visits to the bidding nations, the State Government has been determined in its efforts to develop strong relationships with all three bidders and to secure the maximum amount of jobs for Australians,” the Minister said.
“We are working to secure all key program infrastructures: the design centre, program management office, and combat system design, integration and test facilities because it makes sense to co-locate these functions at Techport Australia.”