Thursday, 3 September 2020
Defence Equipment: Collins Class Submarines
That the Senate—
(a) notes that:
(i) Australia's Collins Class submarines provide vital capability for the Australian Defence Force, yet in June 2011 not one could go to sea,
(ii) over half a decade later and after significant investment, the current sustainment model, with short term maintenance activities in Western Australia (WA) and full-cycle dockings in South Australia (SA), is achieving world benchmarks,
(iii) ASC South Australia sends experts to WA to resolve complex maintenance issues,
(iv) there is a proposal before Government to move full-cycle dockings from SA to WA, which would result in:
(A) a loss of corporate knowledge,
(B) negative impact on the sustainment model, and potential reduction of submarine availability, and
(C) at best, only similar outcomes would be achieved, thus the cost of the move cannot represent value for money, and
(v) the response to COVID-19 has:
(A) introduced levels of concern and stress on Australian workers, and
(B) is disrupting state economies; and
(b) calls on the Federal Government to:
(i) recognise the success of the current sustainment model, and
(ii) provide stability for the employees of ASC and the South Australian economy by retaining all Collins Class submarine full-cycle docking activities in SA.
I seek leave to move an amendment to the motion.
Leave not granted.
Pursuant to contingent notice, I move:
That so much of the standing orders be suspended as would prevent Senator Cormann moving an amendment to Senator Patrick's motion.
We've just gone through a pandemic, and the government has spent—and this is not a criticism—over $200 billion. Yet the government is considering shifting something that works in Adelaide—that is, full-cycle dockings for submarines—over to Western Australia at the cost of $1 billion or more. We know that the South Australian workers there will not leave. ASC have told us that about 10 per cent of their workforce would be prepared to move to WA. We will strip that enterprise of all its corporate knowledge. That will damage national security, because submarine availability will drop. We need to be very sensible about what we do moving forward. This makes no sense. If you've got a billion dollars to spend, spend it on making something new, spend it on improving something; don't spend it on shifting something for political purpose.
Original question, as amended, agreed to.