Australians must build future submarines and frigates: SA Defence

The need for an Australian-owned builder for the $89 billion 12-submarine and nine-frigate program was emphasised in State Parliament in a statement  last week by South Australian Defence Industries Minister Hamilton-Smith.

The Minister said that indications coming from Canberra are that the French Government-owned Naval Group (formerly DCNS) having been chosen as the architect and designer of the new submarine, will now be selected as the builder.

This stands in stark contrast to decisions taken by previous federal governments to create the Australian submarine builder ASC to build the Swedish-designed (SAAB/Kockums) Collins Class submarine.

He said there are further concerns that the successful frigate architect/designer (Fincantieri, BAE or Navantia) will be asked to build the frigates, cutting the ASC and companies like Austal out of the deal.

Minister Hamilton-Smith told Parliament there are real concerns held by industry and the union movement about foreign, government-owned multi-national defence companies being given exclusive rights to build our submarines and ships, at the expense of Australian companies and Australian workers.

The report also said that Hamilton-Smith flagged that the SA Government is considering coordinating a national campaign with other state governments, industry associations, unions and members of the Australian Parliament to ensure that the submarine and shipbuilding enterprises are majority Australian-owned.

It is said that the construction of the $3 billion Offshore Patrol Vessels starts at Techport in 2018 and will lead to 400-plus direct and 400 indirect jobs. The $35 billion Future Frigate program is due to commence in Adelaide in 2020. It will lead to approximately 2000 direct jobs.

Construction of the 12 Future Submarines will start in 2022. Worth $50 billion, French designer DCNS estimates the submarines project represents 2900 direct jobs in South Australia, with 1700 jobs in shipbuilding, 100 jobs at DCNS office, 600 jobs in supply chain and 500 jobs in combat system integration.