Monday, 13 August 2018
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister for Defence, Senator Payne. Can the minister please advise the Senate what the Turnbull government is doing to ensure our maritime security, including our naval shipbuilding industry, for decades to come?
I thank Senator Fawcett very much for his question, as a very interested senator from South Australia, but also as the chair of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade. Of course, the safety and security of our nation is the Turnbull government's first priority.
As we set out in the defence white paper in 2016, which the Prime Minister and I released, the regeneration of the Royal Australian Navy is a key part of our strategy for maritime security. On Friday 29 June, with the Prime Minister, the Minister for Defence Industry, the Minister for Finance—Senator Cormann—Senator Fawcett and a number of other colleagues present as well, we announced the final step in finalising our historic naval regeneration, with the announcement that the Hunter class Future Frigates will be designed by BAE Systems and built by ASC Shipbuilding in Adelaide. Through that decision the government will deliver one of the world's most advanced anti-submarine warfare frigates, giving our military the potent naval capability that it needs.
The Hunter class will provide the ADF with the highest levels of lethality and deterrence that our major surface combatants need. It will have the capability to conduct a variety of missions, independently or as part of a task group, with sufficient range and endurance to operate effectively throughout the region and, indeed, further abroad. The frigates will also have the flexibility, importantly, to support non-warfare roles, such as humanitarian assistance and disaster relief. We know particularly how important that can be in our region, which is particularly prone to those challenges. It will incorporate the leading edge, Australian developed CEA phased array radar, and the US Navy's Aegis combat management system, with an Australian interface developed by SAAB Australia—the development of which Senator Fawcett, as a South Australian, is particularly proud. The Hunter class will be one of the most capable warships in the world. (Time expired)
That is a very good question. Our sovereign naval shipbuilding strategy is underpinned by our decision on the Hunter class Future Frigates. This is a $35 billion program which will create at least 1,500 direct jobs and another 2,500 jobs throughout the supply chain right across the country. It will create significant opportunities for businesses large and small, both locally and globally. It will also guarantee Australia's naval shipbuilding sovereignty by ensuring that ASC Shipbuilding will become a strategic national asset capable of independently designing, developing and leading the construction of complex, large naval warships.
The Future Frigates program is another example of our government's commitment to maximise Australian industry content in our military capability, ensuring that we deliver for Australian workers and Australian businesses. I also note that BAE Systems has already pre-qualified over 500 Australian companies— (Time expired)
As I said, the Hunter class frigates are the final step in our historic plans to regenerate the Royal Australian Navy. What the government has now announced is a build of 54 new naval ships in Australia, using thousands of Australian workers and businesses, delivering uniquely Australian capability.
Whether it's the next generation of 12 Future Submarines that the Prime Minister and I announced in April 2016, whether it's the 21 steel-hulled Pacific patrol boats that we signed a contract for with Austal ships in May 2016, whether it's the 12 new offshore patrol vessels that we announced in November 2017, for which we will cut steel later this year, or whether it's the nine Hunter class Future Frigates that we'll build in Adelaide, with ASC shipbuilding cutting steel in 2020, the difference between those opposite and this government is that we are delivering. We have delivered on our commitments, and Labor has consistently failed to do so. (Time expired)