OPINION EDITORIAL – ADELAIDE ADVERTISER

The Defence Teaming Centre (DTC) comments this week undermines the certainty that defence industry in South Australia is looking for.

I have been advised by Defence that the figures used by DTC are speculative and uninformed and that it is premature to speculate about the cost breakdown per state before the results of the CEP processes for future frigates, submarines and offshore patrol vessels are completed.

DTC’s approach is contrary to the methodical and prudent steps the Government is taking to ensure a sustainable naval shipbuilding industry that delivers the best naval capability for Defence.  Their megaphone representations to Government are ineffective.

In truth, it’s a sideshow and not the main game.

In contrast, when it comes to shipbuilding in South Australia, the Government has a strong working relationship with the South Australian government.  The South Australian Government recognises the value of this relationship. We also have an outstanding relationship, working directly with South Australian defence industry.

As DTC knows, a competitive evaluation process (CEP) for the future submarine is already underway.  This is a process that has been lauded by the three participants and is one that will deliver the right submarine with the right capability at the right price.  It is a process that will ensure long term advanced manufacturing and maintenance jobs are sustained in South Australia.

The Government made a clear announcement that that the acquisition process for Future Frigates and Offshore Patrol Vessels will commence in October this year. The Government announced two weeks ago, the Future Frigates will be built in South Australia – in fact, the lion’s share of future naval work will be undertaken in South Australia.

The Coalition Government’s historic investment in Navy capability will be a centrepiece of the fully-funded Defence White Paper that will be released later this year. It will set out the Government’s plan to equip the Australian Defence Force to meet current and future challenges.

Tuesday this week marked two weeks since the Government made this historic announcement.  It also marked two weeks of silence from Mr Shorten.

Does Mr Shorten support the Government’s plan for a continuous naval shipbuilding programme in Australia?  Until Mr Shorten supports the Government’s plan, it is fair to suggest that he does not want to provide the Australian Defence Force the certainty they require to protect and defend our nation and similarly he doesn’t have confidence in Australian shipbuilders.

The Commonwealth Government is delivering a long-term plan for a strong and sustainable naval shipbuilding industry. Over the next 20 years the Government will invest over $89 billion in ships and submarines for the Navy.

The $31.9 billion Defence budget this year delivered an additional $9.9 billion over the forward estimates, representing record investment in Defence.  South Australia, with around 7% of the nation’s population, has around 18% of the nation’s Defence workforce and 19% of total Defence investment.

This, in part, recognises that the Adelaide shipyards and workforce are strategic national assets.

This critical investment will generate significant economic growth and sustain several thousand Australian jobs over decades. It is a key part of our commitment to a safe and secure Australia.

The 2015 Defence White Paper, to be released later this year, will provide an integrated investment programme to achieve Australia’s defence and national security objectives.

The Government will also deliver an independently costed acquisition program, a ten-year Defence Capability Plan (DCP) and a new Defence Industry Policy Statement. The DCP will be realistic, affordable and provide project approvals with clear timeframes.

This guidance, combined with the Government’s commitment to return Defence spending to two per cent of GDP within a decade, will improve industry confidence to plan for projects, including development of infrastructure, skills and capabilities for the future.