Government playing politics with shipbuilding jobs

Published on Tue 27 October 2020 1:44pm

This government is making a horrible mess of Defence shipbuilding – it is delays and cost buyouts as far as the eye can see. It is crumbs from the table for Australian companies that want to be involved in this work. And that puts our sovereign shipbuilding and sustainment capacity at risk. It puts the jobs of Australian shipbuilders and seafarers at risk and for WA it is nothing but broken promises.

Mr Wilson (1:44pm) – Deputy Speaker, the government has made a huge song and dance about its investment in Defence shipbuilding. The announcements have been champagne affairs; the reality has been a cup of cold weak tea and a stale biscuit. It’s vital when you spend billions of taxpayer dollars that you deliver strategic outcomes and Australian jobs and sovereign defence capability. But you’ve got to keep your promises.

In WA, the Liberals took out full page newspaper ads, saying we would get 50% of shipbuilding work and they’ve repeatedly said they would make a timely decision about submarine sustainment in the national interest. We’re still waiting for them to make good on that promise but they are creeping and crawling away from the commitment out of political cowardice.

They think they can break their promise so slowly that no one in WA will notice. Last year the Minister for Defence said the decision on the full cycle sustainment of the Collins class submarines will be made by Christmas. We should have asked which Christmas. Yesterday the minister wouldn’t even commit to making a decision before the next election in 2022 and that leaves workers in both WA and South Australia in the lurch.

Deputy Speaker this government is making a horrible mess of Defence shipbuilding – it is delays and cost blowouts as far as the eye can see. It is crumbs from the table for Australian companies that want to be involved in this work. And that puts our sovereign shipbuilding and sustainment capacity at risk. It puts the jobs of Australian shipbuilders and seafarers at risk and for WA it is nothing but broken promises.

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