Tuesday, 25 February 2020
Collins Class Submarines
I seek leave to amend general business notice of motion No. 487 standing in my name for today.
I amend the motion in the terms circulated in the chamber and move the motion as amended:
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(ii) in June 2011 the Navy could not put even one of our six Collins Class submarines to sea,
(iii) it took more than half a decade and a significant amount of taxpayer's money to rectify submarine sustainment and achieve world benchmarks,
(vi) there is a proposal before Government to move Full Cycle Dockings from SA to WA which would result in:
(A) only a small percentage of the SA workforce relocating to WA, causing a huge loss of corporate knowledge from Australia's submarine sustainment organisation,
(B) significant challenges and risk being injected into the sustainment model,
(C) submarine availability suffering, thereby damaging national security,
(D) at best, only similar outcomes would be achieved, thus the cost of the move cannot represent value for money,
(E) a sustainment model inconsistent with Defence's longer term plans of having submarines based on the East and West coasts, and
(F) Defence being exposed to higher levels of risk by having all its Collins Class submarines maintenance capabilities in one location; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) recognise the success of the current sustainment model, and
(ii) continue the current sustainment model, retaining all Collins Class Submarine Full Cycle Docking activities in SA.
A decision on the future location of the full cycle docking activities for the Collins class submarine sustainment has not yet been made. Our most important priority is to guarantee the ongoing availability of our nation's submarine capability throughout the transition from the Collins class submarines to the next fleet of 12 attack class submarines. This decision will be made by the government after careful consideration of all the relevant information and advice and on the basis of what is in our national interest. We will not decide this issue based on emotion in the Senate. Senator Patrick, in moving this motion, knows that no decision has been made in relation to the future full cycle docking arrangements. He also knows that the government, not the Senate, will ultimately make this decision. As we have made consistently clear, that decision will be made on the basis of what is in our national interest after proper consideration of all the relevant information and advice.
Labor will not be supporting the motion. Australian submarine capability, including the outstanding work of the personnel at ASC that maintain the Collins class submarines, is a national strategic asset. The fact is that only the government has access to all the relevant advice from Defence and ASC to make an informed decision. Senator Reynolds promised to make a decision last year but singularly failed. She has left ASC workers in the lurch. We also encourage Senator Patrick to use his vote as much as his words. He's a crossbench vote. The government needs to pass legislation, but his support for government legislation is largely a foregone conclusion. This motion won't persuade the government to do anything if Senator Patrick won't back up his words with his vote.