Austal wel­comes boost to de­fence

Southern Telegraph - - News - Ai­den Boy­ham

The lo­cal ship­build­ing in­dus­try in Hen­der­son has re­acted to the State Gov­ern­ment’s plans to boost WA’s de­fence in­dus­try through its new spe­cialised De­fence West of­fice with a va­ri­ety of view­points.

As re­ported in the Tele­graph last week, Premier Mark McGowan and De­fence Is­sues Min­is­ter Paul Pa­palia of­fi­cially un­veiled the new body, which will pre­pare a de­fence strat­egy in a bid to se­cure the lo­cal ship­build­ing in­dus­try a greater share of Aus­tralia’s de­fence con­tracts.

Un­der the pro­posal, a new de­fence ad­vo­cate and a panel of spe­cial­ist ad­vis­ers will be ap­pointed to help cham­pion the in­ter­ests of WA’s de­fence in­dus­try with Fed­eral min­is­ters and key de­fence ex­ec­u­tives.

Hen­der­son-based Austal, one of the big com­pa­nies vy­ing for a piece of the de­fence con­tract pie, said it wel­comed any ef­fort by the State Gov­ern­ment to fur­ther sup­port the growth and de­vel­op­ment of Aus­tralia’s de­fence in­dus­try.

While Mr Pa­palia had pre­vi­ously de­scribed WA’s al­lo­ca­tion of 3.7 per cent of the na­tional de­fence spend as “crumbs un­der the ta­ble,” Austal said ev­ery de­fence con­tract with an Aus­tralian build was a win for WA and ev­ery other State.

“The na­tional ship­build­ing in­dus­try is a na­tional en­dea- vour,” an Austal spokesman said. “It is not about the suc­cess or fail­ure of States to se­cure their share. “Ev­ery State will benefit from the suc­cess of a na­tional in­dus­try that is in­ter­na­tion­ally com­pet­i­tive and ex­port ca­pa­ble.

“The con­ver­sa­tion on the de­fence in­dus­try needs to go be­yond State work share to fo­cus on ex­port and what we can achieve as a na­tion.”

Mr McGowan pre­vi­ously said the Gov­ern­ment had iden­ti­fied de­fence as a key pil­lar for di­ver­si­fy­ing the State’s econ­omy while Mr Pa­palia said WA had the great­est con­cen­tra­tion of de­fence-re­lated prime con­trac­tors and small to medium en­ter­prises of any cap­i­tal in Aus­tralia.

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