Hendy Cowan

Hendy Cowan


    WA has credentials to lead Australian shipbuilding industry

    10/01/2001 3:29 PM

    Deputy Premier Hendy Cowan says Western Australia is well placed to benefit from the future rationalisation of the Australian steel shipbuilding industry.

    Mr Cowan says the current debate on the rationalisation of the Australian shipbuilding industry has ignored WA’s undoubted strength in the marine industry.

    “Cockburn Sound is Australia’s largest commercial shipbuilding centre and is the home port for the entire Australian Submarine Force,” he said.

    “It will soon have half the Australian Naval Surface Fleet.”

    Coupled with opportunities presented by the recent White Paper on Defence, rationalisation should see WA boost its shipbuilding industry and also play a key role in building up Australia’s defence capability.

    “WA has adopted major initiatives which makes it one of the most cost-effective shipbuilders in the world,” Mr Cowan said.

    “This State is determined to provide all the essential infrastructure and expertise to support Australia’s naval requirements.

    “If there is to be a centre of excellence in Australian shipbuilding it might be argued that it already exists at Cockburn Sound.

    “Not only is it a major shipbuilding centre, it is a port which often hosts visit by ships and submarines of other nations.”

    Mr Cowan said all minor and major future submarine refits should be undertaken at Cockburn Sound.

    “It is difficult to justify the loss of submarine operational time and unnecessary disruption to submarine crews caused if the submarines are refitted other than at their home port,” he said.

    “Refits and other maintenance of all WA based naval vessels should be undertaken at Cockburn Sound.”

    Mr Cowan said the Department of Commerce and Trade was working vigorously to ensure WA maintained its place in the forefront of Australia’s shipbuilding industry, including the major marine industry infrastructure upgrade underway at the Jervoise Bay heavy engineering project.

    Other initiatives would further boost the State’s claim to be Australia’s centre of naval defence, including a proposed hydrodynamic test facility to develop ‘state-of-the-art’ new vessel designs.

    Local industry was already involved in the maintenance of Collins Class submarines, FFGs (guided missile frigates) and ANZAC ships.

    “All this reinforces the point that Cockburn Sound is the logical choice as the centre of Australian naval shipwork,” Mr Cowan said.

    Media contact: Peter Jackson 9222-9595