House debates

Tuesday, 13 February 2024

Statements by Members

Defence Procurement

1:47 pm

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

It's a frightening time in my home state of South Australia if you're in the defence sector right now. We're seeing daily reports of imminent, dramatic changes to the continuous shipbuilding program, which we believed the government would honour and which they said before the last election that they would honour. Now we have reports of a dramatic scale back of the Hunter frigate program. Indeed, we even have the South Australian Premier conceding or perhaps agreeing that the nine frigates won't be built now. I've never seen thousands of jobs for so many years thrown out the window with such a gesture.

Now, we seem to have a situation where the uncertainty is dramatically draining confidence for anyone in the defence sector. There are question marks over vehicle contracts in Army. As someone who has Rheinmetall, one of the major prime contractors, based in my electorate, it is a frightening situation that so much uncertainty could lead to an enormous loss of jobs in South Australia. The surface vessel review was given to the government last year. They've had it for months. It needs to be released, and we need to have a very clear commitment for continuous shipbuilding in South Australia. Anything short of that will be a dramatic broken promise to the people of my electorate.