Wednesday, 4 May 2016
That the Senate—
(a) acknowledges the importance of Australia's shipping and maritime industry, and its contribution to the Australian economy and national defence capabilities;
(b) notes that some 7,000 people are employed directly in shipbuilding yards across Australia, and a further 24,000 people in associated industries;
(c) recognises that more than 1,800 shipbuilding jobs have been lost in Australia since 2013, and the need to protect and retain Australian jobs for Australian workers;
(d) understands the Federal Government has selected Spanish company Navantia as the preferred tenderer to build replacement supply vessels for the Australian Navy, which will create some 3,000 jobs in Spain and further decimate the Australian shipbuilding and maritime industry; and
(e) calls on the Federal Government to immediately halt further negotiations with the Spanish company and instead work with the Australian shipbuilding and maritime industry to immediately establish the capability to build the ships in Australia which will provide Australian jobs for Australian workers, and in the event that withdrawal from negotiations is not possible, immediately install requirements which maximise Australian involvement, input and content such as the build of the blocks in Australia.
I seek leave to make a short statement.
I am a strong supporter of Australia's shipbuilding and maritime industry. I, like many Australians, am disgusted that the Turnbull government would award a billion-dollar naval shipbuilding contract to the Spanish. Australians do not want their hard earned taxpayer dollars being spent in Spain, creating jobs for the Spanish; they want their money being spent here in Australia, creating Aussie jobs for Aussie workers. I call on the Malcolm Turnbull government to cease any further negotiations with the Spanish and to instead bring this contract back home to Australia, to our own shipbuilding and maritime industry, where it belongs.
Defence's advice to the government is that, given the size of the ships, there are no shipyards currently capable of constructing the replacement supply ships in Australia. Any upgrades to the infrastructure would need to have been completed by now in order to avoid a critical capability gap and to avoid causing delays to the AWD program. Unfortunately, the Labor government did not commission any ships for six years, nor did they undertake the necessary infrastructure improvements. The Turnbull government will not risk a critical capability gap and will acquire the replacement supply ships as soon as possible.