Defence dollars fall on WA

22 February, 2017

A $100 million Commonwealth investment in WA’s defence infrastructure will create jobs and further strengthen the State’s world-class defence industry, says WA’s peak business advocate.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced the funding to upgrade infrastructure at the Austal shipbuilding yard in Henderson on Monday, along with Premier Colin Barnett and WA Senator Linda Reynolds.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of Western Australia Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott says WA should be the natural home for all maintenance and sustainment of future defence vessels and Monday’s announcement was a powerful vote of confidence in the State’s defence capability.

“Western Australia’s world-class defence industry is moving from strength to strength – an extra $100 million into WA’s defence infrastructure at HMAS Stirling and the Henderson strip will not only create jobs during the construction phase, but will place WA in prime position to win future maintenance and sustainment contracts, thereby creating jobs for generations to come,” Ms Willmott said.

She says the investment will support WA shipbuilders to build Pacific Patrol Boats and Offshore Patrol Vessels from 2020 and will enhance WA’s prospects at securing more defence contracts in the future.

“Western Australia should be the natural home for all maintenance and sustainment of future defence vessels – we are already delivering superior outcomes on the ANZAC Frigates and Collins Class submarine projects and WA’s sophisticated defence supply chain boasts more than 180 innovative companies who excel in all areas of defence design, build, maintenance, upgrades, sustainment and exports.

“WA also has a competitive geographical advantage in being placed on the edge of the Indian Ocean Rim.

“CCI has long called for increased investment in defence infrastructure to ensure that WA is ready and able to take advantage of new defence opportunities — two years ago, CCI established the WA Defence Industry Council to represent the WA defence industry, promote WA’s elite defence capabilities and competitive advantages and send the message to Canberra that WA should be the natural home for all maintenance and sustainment of future defence vessels.”

As a key WA election priority for business, CCI has been calling for both major parties to commit to developing and implementing a long-term infrastructure plan, coordinated by an independent infrastructure body.

“A bipartisan, 20-year plan will ensure WA has the capacity to respond to new opportunities that arise as the economy diversifies, will ensure that key infrastructure projects are not threatened by partisan politics and will give business owners and investors the certainty they need to make strategic decisions that will impact the future of our state,” Willmott says.

“The Western Australian business community thanks Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and WA politicians including Senator Linda Reynolds and Premier Colin Barnett for their continued support of WA’s world-class defence industry and looks forward to working together on further defence projects in future.”

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