Involvement in Australian naval shipbuilding projects offers a tick of approval for shipbuilders competing for overseas contracts, a Senate committee has heard.
Chief executive of West Australian-based company Austal David Singleton told the Senate committee running the inquiry into Australia's naval shipbuilding industry that companies designing and building vessels for the Australian Commonwealth are looked upon favourably across the globe.
"I'm sometimes asked what is the credibility of Austal to build these ships ... And I say I build and I design ships for the Australian government that meets the Australian demands as well, and in many countries around the world, that's as big a tick as I can possibly give," said Singleton.
Singleton said the Australian company is currently looking at selling its Pacific Patrol Boat vessels, 19 of which are being built for the Commonwealth, to Hong Kong, a sell that is made easier with support from the Australian government.
"We're currently building the Pacific Patrol Boats for the Commonwealth ... We are at the moment attempting to sell those vessels to Hong Kong and we recently had a visit with the Hong Kong representatives who said to us that 'If it's designed in Australia under the guise of the Australian government, if it's accepted by the Australian neighbours ... then for us in Hong Kong that is acceptable'."
Austal's FY2017 annual results presentation recently talked up the improvement across Australia's defence and commercial sector, with export opportunities from Australian and Philippines shipyards at record levels compared to the past decade.
The Henderson-based company's presentation said recent support from the Australian government has improved its ability to secure military contracts overseas, including in the Middle East.
"Government has significantly increased support for Australian defence exports," the report said. "This is having an immediate impact and likely to improve Austal’s ability to win."
Singleton added it is hopeful it will further improve the outlook of its Australian presence if it, and its teaming partner Fassmer, is named as the successful Offshore Patrol Vessel tenderer.
"We are acutely aware of ensuring we are best positioned to capture the construction opportunities available in the defence sectors in Australia and the USA," Singleton said.
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"In Australia, the outcome of procurement decisions on the Offshore Patrol Vessel by the end of the year and Future Frigate programs in particular will define the nature of our operations in this country for decades to come."
The report also marked Austal's intentions to further develop its capabilities in steel if it and teaming partner ASC Shipbuilding are chosen to work on the Future Frigates project.