Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia said discussions about where full cycle docking would take place from 2024 had reached a crucial phase with the Federal Government now receiving its recommendations from the Defence Department.
CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell on why defence industry is crucial to diversifying the economy.
Moving the lucrative sustainment of Collins Class submarines to WA would create more than 3000 jobs and contribute $8 billion to the WA economy and would be in the national interest, the State Government says.
Speaking at CCIWA’s Sustaining Australia’s Submarine Future: Full Cycle Docking in WA breakfast, Papalia said WA was prepared to fund all infrastructure needs, could meet workforce requirements and would undertake any federal requirements to become a secure defence precinct.
“I met with Mathias Cormann (Finance Minister) on Friday,” he said.
“The last time I met with Minister Reynolds she indicated that about right now they’d be receiving their recommendations from defence. It then goes to the to national security council committee of cabinet, then cabinet and their decision will be announced by the end of year,” he said.
Papalia said the State Government had committed a “significant amount” of money to develop the infrastructure required for FCD at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.
This includes new finger wharfs, submarine transit infrastructure, submarine cradles, site preparation, transport upgrades, graving dock, shiplift, multi-storey car park and pedestrian underpass.
He said it was world’s best practice to have maintenance of submarines based near operational areas, with the RAN base HMAS Stirling – Australia’s largest naval base – located on Garden Island.
FCD is currently undertaken in South Australia but Papalia denies claims that “WA had just popped up, emerged out of nowhere and suddenly wanted to steal jobs from South Australia”.
He said since being elected in 2017, the State Government had initially campaigned hard for a better share of the Federal Government’s $200 billion defence spend before collaborating on a strategic plan after discussions with then defence minister Christopher Pyne.
This included working with the Defence Department to ensure WA’s strategic plan reflected the requirements of defence and a devising a plan for the Henderson shipbuilding precinct for the short, medium and long term.
Following this year’s federal election in May, Papalia met with new Defence Minister Linda Reynolds, who said a decision on FCD would be made at the end of the year.
The State Government has since commissioned a strategic case, economic analysis and delivered its business case to the Federal Government.
“Right now is a pretty important time,” Papalia said.
“It is my view that everyone in WA should be suggesting to anyone they can at Federal level, not just Government and Opposition but everyone in the parliament from WA that we in WA know that this task should come to WA,” Papalia said.
Defence West Executive Director Matt Moran said infrastructure upgrades to Henderson including the addition of a shiplift could have the added benefit of attracting US navy ships for maintenance.
CCIWA CEO Chris Rodwell said diversifying the economy crucial for WA.
“When we are talking about diversification of the Western Australian economy it’s projects exactly like this that will make that happen,” he said.