Labor floats marine ideas
STATE Opposition Leader Mark McGowan labelled the State Government “lazy and disengaged” before pledging to create a new group and ministerial position to bring more defence contracts to WA.
There was disappointment with WA being left with the crumbs of the Federal Government’s $40 billion investment in the shipbuilding industry, with the majority of work heading to South Australia.
Construction of 12 offshore patrol vessels, a program worth $3 billion dollars, will only move to WA when work to build nine frigates begins in Adelaide in 2020.
The frigate program worth about $35 billion.
Austal, based at the Australian Marine Complex, has been lined up to build 21 replacement steel-hulled Pacific patrol boats in a deal worth about $900 million.
Last week French company is DCNS won a $50 billion contract in principle to build the next generation of Australian Navy submarines in Adelaide.
Mr McGowan said Labor, if elected at the next State election, would create Defence West and a new Minister for Defence Issues with an advisory board to advocate for a greater share of defence contracts.
“WA has a golden opportunity to play a big role in building the future generations of Australia’s defence infrastructure. As our economy transitions from mining, defence will be a key part of diversifying the economy and creating jobs for the future,” he said.
“The Liberals have been lazy and disengaged. They failed to do the hard work to win our share of defence work.”
Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull said the Government would work with DCNS to identify opportunities for local businesses to integrate into the supply chain. About 2800 jobs should be created.
Premier Colin Barnett said WA contractors should benefit from the DCNS contract.
“Although the bulk of the submarine build will occur in Adelaide from 2025, the Future Submarine project is viewed by the Australian Government as a national endeavour and I would expect the proven capabilities of the state’s naval shipbuilding sector will be called upon,” he said.
“WA has significant capability to build components for the submarines and to maintain them. The state’s capability, particularly in heavy steel works, is well recognised and will no doubt contribute heavily to the submarine project.
On Friday the Premier said a new long-term contract for maintenance of the Anzac Class frigates would be centred in WA.
The Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.