Australia needs a National Shipbuilding Plan for civil as well as defence vessels, with a sovereign Australian industry, built by Australian workers according to the final report of the Senate Economics References Committee inquiry into Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry, tabled today.
At a minimum, all vessels procured by the Commonwealth, scientific and research vessels, Federal Police, customs and border protection vessels, and agriculture vessels should comply with the same requirements as naval procurements, devised in the national interest.
The inquiry spanned two parliaments over four years, received 61 public submissions and held 16 public hearings across the country.
When this inquiry commenced, Australia faced the prospect of Tony Abbott awarding the $50 billion Future Submarine project to Japan with almost no oversight or independent scrutiny.
Since then, the Liberals have been dragged kicking and screaming into accepting that Australian industry and workers have the skills and capabilities to build, maintain and sustain our vessels to a world-class standard.
But the Turnbull Government continues to show that it is incapable of delivering on its commitments to the Australian people.
In December last year, the government announced it had secured 200 jobs at the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) allocating nearly $30 million over three years for training scholarships. However, the ASC has not been able to access this money, and recently announced more job losses in April.
The committee has therefore recommended that that these funds be immediately released to prevent further job losses from the strategically vital naval shipbuilding industry.
Australia’s $89 billion Naval Shipbuilding Plan is too large and too important to become hostage to marginal seat politics.
But that seems unlikely to change, given the deferment of the announcement of the successful design tender for the $35 billion Future Frigate program.
Always arrogant and out of touch, the only jobs the Turnbull Liberals care about are their own.