Defence West is hoping for a Federal Government decision on full cycle docking as early as December as it continues to push the case for why it’s in the national interest to bring full maintenance of navy submarines to WA.
The State Government announced in August that two independent studies showed moving Collins class submarine maintenance from South Australia to WA would relieve workforce pressure in South Australia, create thousands of jobs and contribute $600 million to the WA economy annually.
Defence West Executive Director Matt Moran says the State Government, which delivered its business case to the Federal Government in late September, will do all it can in the lead up to the decision to position WA as the best place to undertake full cycle docking (FCD).
Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia and an expert panel, which includes Moran, will explain how the move would diversify the economy and create supply chain opportunities at a CCIWA briefing on November 12.
Moran said from the sidelines of last week’s CCIWA-Western Roads Federation Freight and Logistics conference that WA was prepared for the first full cycle docking to start in 2024.
He said WA’s case for FCD was strong and modelling showed the state could meet peak workforce requirements of up to 3000 people.
“We believe we’ve got the workforce, we’ve got the training requirements down pat, so even if there is a slight upward trend in mining, which we think there will be, we can still cater for both defence and mining,” he said.
With the Federal Government spending $200 billion on defence over 10 years, Moran said it wasn’t about arguing whether WA was getting a fair share of the spend.
“It’s about how WA can best serve defence and work out where we can add value, and we believe full cycle docking is that space,” he said.
“Maritime sustainment, we believe, is a huge opportunity for WA. You’ve got to remember there’s more money and investment in sustainment than there is an acquisition, so we think WA is really well placed to get more work like that.”
Moran would not reveal how much would need to be spent on upgrades to the Henderson precinct, home to the state’s shipbuilders and Australian Marine Complex, but confirmed they would go ahead regardless of whether the state won FCD.
“There’s a lot of work that’s going to head west – whether it be the sustainment for the Hunter class frigates, we’re doing offshore patrol vessels, we’re also going to be building a hydrographic vessel, we’re doing mine warfare support vessels,” he said.
“So there’s a lot that’s happening in WA and we believe that Henderson will need to be upgraded regardless.
“You’ve also got to remember that Henderson services the resources sector as well as defence. We think Henderson has a really bright future regardless of full cycle docking, but we still want to win it.”
►Find out the opportunities FCD would create in WA and how you jump on board. Book tickets to Sustaining Australia’s submarine future: full cycle docking in WA here.