Monday, 2 May 2016
Questions without Notice
I thank Senator Fawcett for his question. The strategic benefits of this decision are extremely important. As well as our decision being based on capability and national security, I would note that in the 2016 defence white paper, we established that submarines are an essential part of Australia's naval capability which provide a strategic advantage in terms of surveillance and protection of our maritime approaches. In making this decision, we have decided to double the size of Australia's submarine fleet from six to 12 in recognition of the more challenging maritime environment that we expect to see in the decades ahead.
As I said in my answer to Senator Reynolds earlier, our decision to build the future submarines here in Australia was also based on capability and national security. Australia must have the sovereign ability to operate and maintain its fleet of submarines independent of any other nation. It is through the design and build process that we will gain the skills and the knowledge that are required to ensure we have the systems in place in the decades to come to independently sustain and operate our unique submarines.
Building the submarines here in Australia also gives us the opportunity and enables us to establish the absolutely critical supply chains that we will need for both the build and sustainment phases of this over 50-year project. The initial investments that we make now for an Australian build will result in a long-term return and give us the opportunity to develop a submarine capability to meet our strategic needs in the future. The government has been very clear in prioritising capability as the key reason for the decision we have made. We will not risk Australia's national security nor or economic strength and prosperity. In making this decision, we have acted decisively and clearly in the national interest. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a supplementary question. Would the minister please advise the Senate on what the decision to design, build and maintain our next generation of submarines means for jobs and investment across Australia and in my home state of South Australia in particular?
The positives do extend beyond capability, although that of course is the significant reason for the decisions we have made. What the Turnbull government's decision to build our fleet of 12 future submarines in Adelaide does is directly create at least 1,100 shipbuilding jobs in the Adelaide yard itself and a further 1,700 expected to be created across the South Australian and Australian supply chains. This will have a substantial economic impact on the South Australian economy and, importantly, it will drive growth and innovation across many sectors.
Through the plans and initiatives which were detailed in the Australian industry involvement plan put forward by DCNS, the settings advanced in the defence industry policy statement and the establishment of the Centre for Defence Industry Capability in Adelaide, we are absolutely committed to maximising Australian industry involvement and innovation in this program. (Time expired)
Mr President, I ask a further supplementary question. Could the minister detail what else the government is doing to create a strong and sustainable naval manufacturing base across Australia and, again, particularly in my home state of South Australia?
I thank Senator Fawcett for his further supplementary question. The decision to build our future submarines in Adelaide has not been made in isolation. The Turnbull government will implement historic and far-reaching reforms to the naval shipbuilding industry in Australia. At the heart of that is the commencement of a continuous build of major surface vessels at the Adelaide shipyard, staring with the offshore patrol vessels in 2018 and then continuing with the future frigates in 2020.
These projects together will create over 3,100 direct jobs, with thousands more created right across the combined ship and submarine building supply chains across the country. These supply chains, which are already in existence but will grow significantly as these projects advance, hold the greatest opportunities for the growth of and the ability to create a sustainable naval shipbuilding industry and naval manufacturing base. (Time expired)