Defence contracts ‘insult’
The WA Opposition has criticised State Government spending on promoting WA’s defence industry, describing the award of Federal contracts to Henderson-based shipbuilders as “an insult, not a win”.
WA secured a $500 million contract to build small patrol boats and a $2 billion, eightyear maintenance contract for Anzac frigates at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.
However, South Australia beat WA to the lion’s share of naval defence work, worth tens of billions of dollars. Department of Commerce figures show SA spends more than 20 times the WA Government’s budget on promoting defence industries.
The figures reveal WA spent only $52,372 last year. In contrast, the Defence SA agency spent $1.2 million on “promotion and events” alone.
WA Labor leader Mark McGowan labelled the Government “lazy and disengaged”, pledging to provide greater support to defence organisations should he become premier next year.
Shadow minister for defence issues Paul Papalia said the Barnett Government had cost WA thousands of jobs.
“The Liberals tried to claim a win for WA in the recent contracts for surface warships when WA had only been assured of just 1.25 per cent — or $500 million — of about $40 billion of work,” he said.
“That’s not a win. That’s an insult.”
Premier Colin Barnett rejected Labor’s criticism, saying recent announcements cemented WA’s place as one of only two national shipbuilding sites to implement the Commonwealth’s commitment to its continuous building of naval ships.
Commerce Minister Michael Mischin visited Civmec last Wednesday, one of the WA companies to be awarded work from the Federal Government.
He said there were ample opportunities for WA’s defence sector to win future naval contracts.
“WA has a world-class defence industry and ensuring the skills and expertise of the private sector companies based here are embedded into the Australian naval shipbuilding industry is essential,” he said. “The State Government will continue to promote our capabilities to key decision makers.”