Thursday, 13 February 2020
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Defence Industry. The minister has today admitted that this government chose not to insert a binding local content guarantee in its multibillion-dollar submarine project. This failure is costing Australian jobs. Why didn't the government provide a guarantee of local jobs in the contract?
Thanks for the question. I think it's worth remembering what I've said earlier, which is that there are currently 137 Australian companies who are already in the submarine project. We on this side—like, I'm sure, all of those on the other side—are very committed to ensuring that we have maximum Australian industry content across all of our programs with respect to our $200 billion investment. But, as I've said, getting this lecture from Labor is really quite extraordinary. In six years, Labor did not commission the building of one naval vessel in an Australian yard—not one. By contrast, we are committing 57 naval vessels to be built in Australia by thousands of Australian workers with Australian steel. As I said earlier, we currently have 4,000 shipbuilding jobs in this country, and we need 15,000—
As I've said, we are currently in the design phase, and it has been very clear from the documentation that, once the design—which is a very unique and highly technical design—of these 12 submarines is finished, we will negotiate Australian industry content. In the meantime, the Prime Minister and I, we on this side—and, I'm sure, those on that side—are backing small- and medium-sized Australian businesses to ensure that we get the maximum Australian industry content. We are backing Australian businesses all the way.