The Carpenter Government has joined unions and business in a fight to have all naval warships built in Australia.
The Commonwealth Defence Department has cast doubt on the wisdom of building the ships in Australia, reportedly saying there was ‘no strong strategic reason’ for doing so.
But in a detailed submission to be made to a Senate inquiry hearing in Perth tomorrow, Science and Innovation Minister Francis Logan will strongly argue that it makes economic and strategic sense to build the vessels in Australia.
Mr Logan will say that naval shipbuilding contracts provide a unique opportunity to strengthen a viable, job-creating industry in Australia.
Also, the Minister will advocate that the Australian Marine Complex (AMC) at Henderson plays a key role in this work, allowing Western Australia to increase its standing as a world-class defence shipbuilding hub.
The Minister’s argument is supported by unions and the WA Chamber of Commerce and Industry, who will also be making submissions to the Senate inquiry.
The Federal Government has announced plans to build two 25,000-tonne amphibious vessels over the next 10 years, at an estimated cost of $2billion.
Mr Logan said these ships should be built in Australia and the AMC should play a role in their construction.
“These contracts provide a clear opportunity to further enhance the international competitiveness of this important industry sector,” he said.
“They give us the opportunity to further develop naval shipbuilding as part of a broader, compatible industry structure.”
Mr Logan said much of the existing development in WA was clustered along the coast of Cockburn Sound, providing excellent facilities for expanded naval shipbuilding.
“The skills used in the work already carried out there fit well with the skills required to build naval vessels,” he said.
The Minister said the State Government’s investment in the AMC had boosted WA’s capacity to carry out construction, fabrication and repair and maintenance work on ships.
“The area is already home to naval shipbuilding contractors and the common user facility enables businesses to lease facilities to complete projects without expensive set-up costs,” he said.
Mr Logan said the State was working hard to convince decision-makers in the Federal Government that building the naval vessels in Australia and launching them at the AMC made strategic and economic sense.
Minister's office: 9222 8950