Investing in our Defence Industry

18 Jun 2018 speech

Ms FLINT (Boothby) (16:06): I have several questions for the minister today regarding our investment in defence infrastructure and capability and what this means for jobs in my home state of South Australia and the nation more broadly. I'm keen to ask questions of the minister because investing in defence infrastructure and capability is one of the many ways the Turnbull government is creating a strong economy and supporting jobs in my home state of South Australia and in my electorate of Boothby. Our investments are also creating education and training opportunities which our university sector in SA, for example, is very excited about. Just last Thursday I heard direct from Professor Colin Stirling, the Vice-Chancellor of Flinders University, which is in the heart of my electorate of Boothby, of the range of benefits the naval shipbuilding program will deliver to my local area.

These exciting opportunities are a direct result of the Turnbull government's investment in defence infrastructure and capability. The Turnbull government's shipbuilding plan will give Australian businesses opportunities to take part in delivering defence contracts and transfer the knowledge, technology and skills they develop into other areas of the economy. This will assist in the expansion of businesses into new markets, allowing them to competitively pursue lucrative export opportunities. Through our initial investment we will be enabling local businesses to build their capabilities and practices so they can compete globally and build our defence export capability. With nine future frigates, 12 submarines and also offshore patrol vessels, the defence industry will
soon be booming.

This $90 billion investment in our nation's defence and defence industry will benefit all Australians. It will create a total of 2,800 jobs in my home state of South Australia alone and opportunities for local businesses in my electorate of Boothby—businesses like Cornell Design and Plasteel in Melrose Park and SAGE Automation at Tonsley have previously worked on major defence contracts. They know the value of defence projects to local businesses and manufacturers and the jobs they support. It's not just the direct defence work that supports jobs; it is also the technology, learning and innovation these companies can then apply to other problems or issues in the private sector and the civilian world that deliver additional value to our economy and additional jobs as well. This is to my mind the true value of defence work. It is not just the actual defence capability, which is absolutely necessary for the nation, but the skills and the technology that companies can then apply to non-defence projects. Our investment in defence could not be more different to that of the Labor Party.

The former Labor government failed to commission a single vessel from an Australian shipyard during their time in office. This impacted the stability of shipbuilding jobs, particularly in my home state of South Australia, as well as the capability of our Navy and Defence Force personnel. In stark contrast, the Turnbull government has committed to building 54 new naval vessels in total. We've taken action to ensure workers at the Australian Submarine Corporation remain employed and have opportunities to upskill, with scholarships available to support roles in operations, management, computer aided design, engineering and supply chain fields. We've launched the Naval Shipbuilding College, the Centre for Defence Industry Capability and the Defence Innovation Hub—based in Adelaide—so that South Australia has the workforce and capabilities it needs to support the thousands of direct and indirect jobs that will be created by the naval shipbuilding program.

In March 2017, the Turnbull government established Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd to facilitate the development and construction of new infrastructure at the Osborne shipbuilding facility, as outlined in the naval shipbuilding plan. In August we saw the first sod turned for the new surface shipbuilding yard, which is arguably the most significant infrastructure supporting the delivery of a continuous naval shipbuilding program in Australia. When completed, thanks to the Turnbull government, we will have one of the most modern and busiest platform shipbuilding businesses in the world at Osborne south. At Osborne north we will have one of the most modern and busiest submarine businesses in the world.

The work at the Osborne shipyard commissioned by our government with the current infrastructure build, and later with the construction, sustainment and maintenance of naval vessels, is a game changer for South Australia. So I ask, will the minister update the chamber as to how the works are progressing at Australian Naval Infrastructure's new naval shipyard development at Osborne? Minister, how many jobs do you expect to be created as a result of the shipyard construction through the managing contractor? And, Minister, how has the coalition government's investment in Osborne and elsewhere helped to ensure the ongoing stability of Australia's domestic shipbuilding industry?