Last night the Turnbull Liberals tabled a report that contains little more than motherhood statements about the level of local industry engagement in Australia’s naval shipbuilding and submarine projects.
The report was tabled in the Senate in response to interim reports from the Economics Committee inquiry on the Future of Australia’s shipbuilding industry.
In their response, the Turnbull Liberals provided vague commitments about the use of local content and local supply chains in these multi-billion dollar contracts, saying that “Defence will seek to maximise Australian industry involvement.”
This is a far cry from the promises made by the Prime Minister during the last election, when he said that the Future Submarines project would see:
“Australian workers building Australian submarines with Australian steel…Built in Australia with Australian jobs, Australian steel, Australian expertise.”
“We do this to secure Australia… to ensure that our economy transitions to the economy of the 21st century. That we have the technology and the skills and the advanced manufacturing and the jobs for our children and our grandchildren for decades to come”
MALCOLM TURNBULL, DOORSTOP, 26 APRIL 2016
The Liberals’ promises have also been undermined by Future Submarines Project head Rear Admiral Gregory Sammut, who said during a recent hearing of the Joint Standing Committee on Treaties that the submarines may not have an Australian-made steel hull.
At the same hearing, the Chief Operating Officer for French contractor DCNS Australia also said that very few potential Australian suppliers had passed an initial audit for supply chain involvement in the project.
We have gone from promises about ships and submarines being built by Australians, with Australian steel – to strong indications that local steel and local firms might not be chosen after all.
We have gone from promises about the jobs our children and grandchildren are entitled to expect (and which were expected to help make up for the loss of our car industry jobs) – to puzzlement about low engagement with the project by potential Australian suppliers.
Having just scraped through at the last election, the Liberals now appear to be remarkably complacent with the plight of Australian steel and shipbuilding jobs.
The time for talk is over.
The Turnbull Liberals must stand by their election commitment and ensure that our next generation of naval vessels are made by Australian workers, using Australian steel, in Australian shipyards.