Senate debates

Thursday, 12 August 2021


Defence Equipment

1:46 pm

Photo of Rex PatrickRex Patrick (SA, Independent) Share this | Hansard source

We know that the Future Submarine and Future Frigate programs are a mess, both from a cost perspective and from a delivery perspective. That may well have a ripple effect through all of the naval shipbuilding programs. In the context of what is happening to our north, where there is a changing geostrategic situation developing, we need to make sure that we are able to field our Defence Force assets.

In particular, I want to talk about submarines because they are a very strong deterrent and a very capable military asset. We cannot afford to not have our submarines available. We have a situation where, still, on the table is the prospect of the submarine full-cycle docking work being shifted to Western Australia. We need to understand that, if that were to occur, only about seven per cent of the workforce would go to Western Australia. We would lose an incredible amount of corporate knowledge, and that would affect submarine availability. Everyone can remember, back in the days of the Gillard government, when we had no submarines able to go to sea.

We need a decision on the full-cycle docking, and it needs to stay in South Australia, where we can do the life-of-type extension. It's the one stable element and the one working element of our naval shipbuilding program. We do not need to be taking the advice of those who have led us into the mess we have with shipbuilding, who say that we should be shifting something that's working. It would be catastrophic for national security. We need to give workers in Adelaide certainty, and we also need to give the supply chain certainty. Make the decision, Minister. (Time expired)


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