De­fence con­tracts ‘in­sult’

Southern Telegraph - - News - Gareth McKnight and An­drew Til­lett

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.”

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