Ship­builders on pro­ject watch


Cockburn Gazette - - NEWS - Bryce Luff

THE be­lea­guered South Aus­tralian ship build­ing in­dus­try re­ceived a boost last week, but it re­mains un­clear if WA will ben­e­fit from a 20-year, $89 bil­lion pro­gram to build war­ships, pa­trol boats and sub­marines an­nounced by the Fed­eral Gov­ern­ment on Tues­day.

South Aus­tralia was the big win­ner, with Prime Min­is­ter Tony Ab­bott an­nounc­ing the coun­try’s fu­ture frigates would be built in the state, with a com­pet­i­tive eval­u­a­tion process to be­gin in Oc­to­ber.

The Gov­ern­ment also an­nounced it would push for­ward con­struc­tion of its re­place­ment pa­trol boats, to com­mence in 2018.

The “third ma­jor pil­lar” of its plan is the SEA 1000 sub­ma­rine pro­gram, with France, Ger­many and Ja­pan com­pet­ing for the con­tract.

While the Gov­ern­ment did not men­tion work at Hen­der­son’s Aus­tralian Marine Com­plex last week, Aus­tralian Man­u­fac­tur­ing Worker’s Union state sec­re­tary Steve McCart­ney said keep­ing work in Aus­tralia was a start.

“If navy ships are be­ing built in Ade­laide, this is usu­ally a good sign for WA man­u­fac­tur­ing,” he said. “Any­thing is bet­ter than send­ing this off­shore, how­ever the devil will be in the de­tail.”

Mr McCart­ney said he was chas­ing con­fir­ma­tion the ves­sels would be de­signed and built in Aus­tralia, not just as­sem­bled from Euro­pean or Ja­panese parts.

“These ships are made from mod­ules, which means there’s no tech­ni­cal rea­son WA couldn’t do some of this work,” he said.

“A 20-year pipeline for South Aus­tralia must come with op­por­tu­ni­ties for the rest of Aus­tralia to get into the sup­ply chain.”

WA Lib­eral Sen­a­tor Linda Reynolds said un­der­per­form­ing states, in­clud­ing South Aus­tralia, needed to re­form and be­come more com­pet­i­tive.

“Ma­jor de­fence projects, like the pro­cure­ment of naval ves­sels must be awarded on merit, and states should not rely on these projects as yet another form of eco­nomic sub­sidy,” she said.

Lo­cal ship builder Austal, which counts the US Navy among its clients, re­mained pos­i­tive.

Chief ex­ec­u­tive An­drew Bel­lamy said last week WA was well po­si­tioned to de­liver Aus­tralia’s off­shore pa­trol ves­sels.

“There are great op­por­tu­ni­ties in both the fu­ture frigate and the off­shore pa­trol ves­sel pro­grams for Aus­tralian ship­builders, in­clud­ing in WA where the lo­cal in­dus­try has built all the Com­mon­wealth’s pa­trol boats for the past 17 years as well as sup­port­ing ma­jor up­grades to the An­zac Frigates and sus­tain­ment of the Collins sub­marines,” he said.

Steve McCart­ney

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