SA criticises Naval Shipbuilding Plan for lack of detail

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South Australia defence industries minister Martin Hamilton-Smith has criticised the federal government’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan, Defence Connect has reported.

Meanwhile, Australian primes have thrown support behind the plan, claiming it will offer “much needed certainty” for Australia’s defence industry.

“The Naval Shipbuilding Plan lacks detail about how much of the $89 billion naval shipbuilding programme will be spent in Australia,” said Hamilton-Smith.

“We are calling for mandated levels of Australian industry participation to be written into construction contracts for future projects once design activities are complete; in particular the $50 billion Future Submarine programme.”

It comes after the SA government agreed terms to the $230 million sale of Techport to the Australian government.

While the state is competitive in the global defence industry, Hamilton-Smith also insisted small businesses are struggling to survive from a reported lack of indigenous work and programmes.

“Our defence industry has proven that it is capable of competing at an international level,” he said.

“The third ship of the Air Warfare Destroyer program is now meeting international benchmarks with our Collins Class submarines exceeding benchmarks for submarine availability.

“South Australia’s small and medium enterprises (SMEs) who are working on the Air Warfare Destroyer program are already struggling to survive as work on that program comes to an end.”

Michael Ward, managing director for Raytheon Australia, the combat systems supplier for the Air Warfare Destroyer, welcomed the plan.

“The government’s plan outlines a strong future for naval shipbuilding and offers much needed certainty for Australia’s defence industry,” he said.

“This document represents the consolidation of the important decisions taken by the government to renew Australia’s naval fleet and to involve Australian industry in this important endeavour.

Businesses will see this as a valuable planning tool to make the necessary investment decisions to deliver an ambitious series of naval projects.”