This week, as the report on Community Consultations for the 2015 Defence White Paper Community Consultation Report was released, Minister for Defence, Hon. Kevin Andrews, was in Perth, with WA Senator Linda Reynolds. [press release]
Senator Reynolds said Minister Andrews has a keen interest in WA Defence capabilities. She said the minister “is going to have the great opportunity to see that we are truly a State of innovation here in Western Australia. Not only in shipbuilding, but across many other industries.”
Senator Reynolds is looking to see Western Australia having a fair opportunity to bid and tender for Australia’s future shipbuilding.
The minister was asked if he could guarantee that WA and other states will get a chance to bid for shipbuilding contracts or if those jobs will just go to the East Coast.
The answer was that the Government’s first consideration is the safety and security of the people of Australia. The first criteria is that equipment has to meet the capability requirements of the relevant Services.
Minister Andrews noted that the previous Labor government did not commission a new naval vessel in an Australian shipyard for six years. he also said “They had bought a vessel from overseas, from the UK. So we’re going to fix that and that’s my task to do that.” He also said the government wants to try to ensure that Australia has a sustainable shipbuilding industry.
The Australian Navy fleet is due to be replaced over the next two decades, the minuter said.
There are two new Landing Helicopter Dock vessels being prepared for commissioning, over the next year. In addition there are plans to build new submarines, new frigates, and new offshore patrol vessels. A tender has already been issued for 21 Pacific Patrol Boats for neighbouring countries in the South Pacific. This should provide real opportunities for Defence industries in Australia.