Kevin Andrews to visit shipbuilder ASC

Defence Minister Kevin Andrews (pictured) will visit government-owned shipbuilder ASC tomorrow, as the decision on the building of Australia’s new submarines nears.

The ABC reports that the visit to the company’s Port Adelaide work site will be Andrews’ first since he was named Defence Minister in December.

There has been speculation that, despite the government’s promises that the submarine construction would be done in Australia, the contract will be awarded to an overseas company.

German, French and Japanese companies have expressed interest in the job, however the government is thought to favour the Japanese bid.

There has been speculation that the construction could be overseen by the Japanese with work done both here and overseas.

According to News.com.au, ASC will use tomorrow’s visit to attempt to convince the Minister to keep the work local. In contrast to the previous Defence Minister David Johnston who said he wouldn’t trust ASC to build a canoe, it is possible that Andrews may be more sympathetic.

“The Australian Government has not yet decided on a particular submarine design and more work is required before such a decision is made,” Andrews said.

“Decisions about this next generation of submarines need to be made on the basis of what is best for our Armed Forces and our national security.

“Whatever decision is taken, there will be more submarines and that means more jobs for South Australia,” Mr Andrews said.

Independent senator Nick Xenophon discussed the issue with the Minister on Tuesday.

Xenephon told the ABC, that it is possible that the vessels could be still built in Adelaide.

"My fear is that this is still driven, or it will attempt to be driven, out of the Prime Minister's office because I believe the Prime Minister has fixed views on this," he said.