The State Government has welcomed Defence Minister Kevin Andrew’s announcement that an expert advisory panel including a probity auditor has been appointed to oversee the Future Submarine Competitive Evaluation Process, but said it doesn’t go far enough.
Minister for Defence Industries Martin Hamilton-Smith said that today’s announcement does not guarantee that the tender process will be both fair and transparent.
“This expert advisory panel must undertake a balanced and considered approach which gives our nation the best submarine capabilities, but which also guarantees Australian businesses and workers the greatest opportunities,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
“It must not be a contrived process driven by a predetermined decision; a captain’s pick.”
“What is missing from today’s Federal Government announcement is whether this expert advisory panel will be asked to consider the overall jobs and enterprise benefits of an Australian build, compared to the potential disastrous decision to spend Australian taxpayer’s money creating jobs overseas.
“The Federal Government made no mention today of its pre-election promise to build 12 submarines in Australia based out of Adelaide.
“Today’s announcement does not recognise the Federal Government’s undertaking that the bidders would be asked to submit options for an Australian build, a hybrid build and overseas build.
“The Federal Government should provide Australia’s defence industry with clarity and immediately rule out an overseas or hybrid build,” Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
“$250 billion worth of naval shipbuilding work is at stake over the next 30 years.
“Economic modelling shows that there are 120,000 man years of work at risk if the Federal Government decides to send the submarine build overseas.
“Australians would like to see the Federal Government mandate for maximum local participation in all major defence contracts to secure future local jobs.
“It would be a stunning breach of faith if any of these submarines were built overseas – there will not be a business or family in Australia that will not be adversely affected.
“What we need now from the Federal Government is the delivery of a 30 year continuous strategic ship building plan for Australia to rescue an industry which is hanging on to survival.
“We need the Federal Government to back Australia’s naval shipbuilding capabilities and to support Australian workers and their families, small business and defence industries.”