Submarine deal: Victoria demands share of $50b projectOn 04/12/2018 by admin
Most of the work for the new submarines will go to South Australia. Photo: SuppliedFrance wins $50b submarine contractVotes for boats
The Victorian government has demanded that Malcolm Turnbull put a local content mandate on the $50 billion submarine deal with France as a first step to bringing work on the project to the state.
Victorian Industry Minister Lily D’Ambrosio said on Wednesday there was “no reason” the Williamstown shipyards couldn’t be revived to help in the construction of the fleet of 12 boats.
But this view that was met with scepticism from industry sources. Most of the work will go to South Australia, home of government-owned shipbuilder ASC at Osborne, where the submarines will be built.
Ms D’Ambrosio said Victoria was the nation’s leader in maritime engineering and design, and Williamstown – which had lost nearly 1000 jobs in recent years as work finishes on other major naval shipbuilding projects – should be considered.
“Those people haven’t disappeared off the face of the earth,” she said. “They are dispersed throughout the economy, and with some commitment and long-term certainty that only Malcolm Turnbull can provide, we could potentially be able to do some of these jobs and this work. Nothing should be excluded until it has been examined.”
Ms D’Ambrosio said she was “somewhat heartened” by Mr Turnbull’s description of the project as a “national endeavour”, but added he was “yet to utter the words ‘Victoria, Victorian jobs and Victorian businesses'”.
“He needs to ensure that before any contract is signed … the government provides a strong local content requirement and allows the [French company] DCNS to make the right decision on how the submarines are designed and supplied.
“We’ve had too many decisions made by Tony Abbott and now Malcolm Turnbull that have been simply a reaction to political pressure in South Australia, and now of course is the time to make good on their promise that there is plenty of work to go around.”
Williamstown will be all but mothballed this year after it was overlooked by the federal government for work on the future frigate program. The number of shipbuilders has dwindled to a few dozen, although there are still nearly 200 design and engineering staff working there.
Ms D’Ambrosio said Williamstown could produce hull sections, as it did with the Air Warfare Destroyer project, which could then be shifted to Osborne for assembly.
There were also opportunities for Victorian companies to supply parts for the project, she said. A modern submarine has about 1 million components.
A BAE Systems spokeswoman said: “BAE Systems will investigate opportunities to work with DCNS to determine where we can best assist in providing skills, technology and capability to ensure the program is delivered.”
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