Osborne naval shipyard transformed by $1.2 billion upgrade for Offshore Patrol Vessels, Future Submarines
SOUTH Australia’s naval shipyard will be transformed through a $1.2 billion injection into new infrastructure, kickstarting job creation under the Federal Government’s $89 billion shipbuilding program.
As revealed in The Advertiser today, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull is in Adelaide where he has released the long-awaited Naval Shipbuilding Plan, which he said would end the “boom-bust cycle” that has afflicted the industry.
His arrival coincides with a visit by Opposition Leader Bill Shorten and the return of Premier Jay Weatherill from China, setting up a Budget showdown over the pair’s claims that SA has been “dubbed” on the $75 billion of national infrastructure announced last Tuesday.
Defence Industries Minister Christopher Pyne said work on a $535 million infrastructure build at the Osborne Naval Shipyard would begin in July to support construction of major surface ships.
A bigger upgrade needed to build the 12 Future Submarines would follow, with costed and detailed designs expected next year. It was expected to cost at least as much as stage one.
He said migrant workers would be employed as part of the program, though they would only make up a “minuscule” percentage of the 5200 jobs created.
“We have to learn how to design and build submarines. Right now we have 60 Australians at Cherbourg in France learning about those skills for design,” he said on Tuesday morning.
“We will also be bringing white collar workers from DCNS to Adelaide to train and skill our workforce.
“It will be small numbers, it will be a minuscule number of the 5200 plus, but obviously we want them to transfer their intellectual property to our workforce.
“We can’t just learn that from reading a manual, we will need them here.”
My Pyne said the release of the National Shipbuilding Plan marks another milestone showing the Government was “cracking on” with the defence build.
“The National Shipbuilding Plan outlines what we need in terms of skills infrastructure and collaboration between the states and territories academia and industry,” he said.
Defence Minister Marise Payne said the plan set out the essential facets needed to ensure we were able to start the construction of Offshore Patrol Vessels (OPVs) in Adelaide next year, and the future frigates in 2020.
The Government has planned for the infrastructure build to use the existing workforce at the shipyards in an effort to avoid more lay-offs, as work on the air warfare destroyers winds downs.
“The Naval Shipbuilding Plan will end the boom-bust cycle that has afflicted the industry for many years, providing certainty for local businesses and shipbuilding workers,” Mr Turnbull said.
Last week, the SA Government agreed to a $230 million deal to sell its Techport shipbuilding facility to the federal government, in an important step towards kickstarting the infrastructure build.
Mr Pyne said the Government was determined to maximise the South Australian industry involvement in its naval shipbuilding programs.
“The Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide has been selected as the country’s primary construction shipyard for naval vessels, charged with delivery of both the continuous build program for major surface combatants and the rolling acquisition of new submarines,” Mr Pyne said.
“The Osborne site and naval shipbuilding workforce will be central to the delivery of the Naval Shipbuilding Plan.”
The defence infrastructure spend comes on top of $3.1 billion dedicated for infrastructure in SA over the next 10 years, announced in last week’s Federal Budget.
The Government would also spend $100 million on defence-related infrastructure in Western Australia.
The plan details that SA’s shipyard would host the bulk of the Government’s investment in new naval vessel construction, beginning with construction of the first two Offshore Patrol Vessels from 2018, nine Future Frigates from 2020 and 12 Future Submarines from around 2022-23.
Both Labor and Senator Nick Xenophon have been pushing for the Government to save existing jobs at ASC by spelling out timetables for construction of two OPVs promised to Adelaide from 2018.
But the plan did not provide a more specific timeline. However, the jobs created through the infrastructure build were planned to fill the gap until the new shipbuilding work begins.
The first stage of the infrastructure development was expected to take around two-and-a-half years to implement, with completion scheduled by the second half of 2019.
The plan states: “This is the most time-critical component of the Government’s planned infrastructure works to enable the future frigate construction program to commence in 2020.”
Mr Pyne said there would be would be many opportunities for small-to-medium sized businesses to contribute to naval shipbuilding and sustainment activities around Australia, including through the supply chains.
The plan states Government would need to consider advice from Defence in coming years to determine the location of Collins Class and future submarine “sustainment activities”.
But Mr Pyne has said there were no plans to change the current mix of Collins Class sustainment, undertaken in both SA and WA.