TUESDAY, 4 APRIL 2017
SUBJECTS: MALCOLM TURNBULL’S EVASIONS ON NAVAL SHIPBUILDING; SENATE INQUIRY INTO THE FUTURE OF THE INDUSTRY
SENATOR KIM CARR: I’m chairing this Senate inquiry into Australia’s Naval shipbuilding. There are increasing numbers of companies and increasing numbers of Australians who are very concerned that there is no certainty for them about their place in what is a $90 billion program for the building of 54 ships in this country over the next forty years. This inquiry is about trying to evaluate those claims and trying to get the government to come clean on its commitments as to how much of that work will be done in Australia.
There is a very deep anxiety here that the level of Australian involvement will be minimal. It is time for the government to produce its industry plan and show how Australians will be able to participate in this shipbuilding plan, where this work will be done and under what circumstances. It is simply not good enough to say that ships will be built in Australia but have no means to secure that objective.
We know in the case of the Collins submarines and in the case of the ANZAC frigates we could build 70 per cent local content, yet this government will not commit to any targets. We now know from DCNS that their proposals would have increasing amounts of work done in France not in Australia.
There is real anxiety here that we are talking about is not a national naval shipbuilding plan for the defence of Australia but a plan for the defence of the Liberal Party’s marginal seats and that’s simply not good enough.
JOURNALIST: Glenn, you have listened to Christopher Pyne on radio this morning, he is saying that 60 per cent of work will be in South Australia. Is that good enough and do you believe him?
GLENN THOMPSON ASSISTANT NATIONAL SECRETARY AMWU: Christopher Pyne before the election indicated he backed the 90 per cent target in relation to what DCNS said in the process of bidding to be our design partner. We take what Christopher Pyne said with a grain of salt and the reason that I say that is because they put out a request for tender on the Future Frigates the other day which we welcome but there is no detail.
There is no mandated position on how Australian Industry will participate in this plan; there is no mandated requirement for the tenders in this case to be able to interlock the supply chain in the process.
The government needs to step up and clearly articulate what the Australian Government expects from these partners in relation to these projects.
JOURNALIST: So do you fear that DCNS is going to try and rip work away from Australia? Especially South Australia?
THOMPSON: What I can say is this. It’s clear and it should not be unexpected that workers in France – organised workers in France – are doing everything possible to ensure that they get a substantial share of the submarine program. That can be acquitted and offloaded from an Australian perspective if our government only stood up and said to DCNS as part of the process of building our future submarines there has to be a percentage of Australian industry participation. You have to step up and support out industry to be supply chain ready for the future project.
CARR: Can I say to you when the Minister makes statements about 60 per cent or some other figures he needs to back it up. All you get from this Minister is waffle. When we ask questions in the Senate we get no answers, what we have is a government that is prepared to say one thing before an election and not prepared to do anything after the election. It is time for the government to come clean. What is the plan? How are they going to achieve these results?
There is no evidence in anything that we have been before this inquiry, anything the government has said in the Australian Senate, to suggest that they have actually got a plan to deliver results in accordance with what the government has said. Minister Pyne is prepared to say anything, any figure that comes out of his head at any particular time to get himself out of the spot at the moment. This is simply not satisfactory