Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne and South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill have buried the hatchet and come together to achieve the best outcome for South Australia through the upcoming Defence shipbuilding projects.
While the Premier and Minister Pyne and the federal government have had a strained relationship in the past over various issues, Premier Weatherill said the two governments have recently spoken about ensuring greater collaboration and reaping the benefits from the defence industry through the upcoming shipbuilding projects taking place in SA.
"I have to say that – putting aside my state pride and viewing the matter objectively – I always believed South Australia was best placed to carry out the project," Premier Weatherill said of the Future Submarine Project at the fourth Submarine Science, Technology and Engineering Conference (SubSTEC).
"To this end, I’m happy to say that Christopher Pyne, the Minister for Defence Industry, and I are very much on the same page. We enjoy a good professional relationship.
"And, just recently, we sat down and talked about how our governments might work even more closely together on workforce planning.
"We’ve agreed to share the results of studies we’re each undertaking in this field at the moment.
"And we both look forward to that work, in time, yielding insights and intelligence that will benefit South Australia and the defence industry as a whole."
Federal government investment in naval shipbuilding is expected to create 8,000 jobs in South Australia and add billions to the state economy, a recent report by PwC found.
The report said the current workforce is expected to more than triple and more than $130 billion will be added to the local economy, improving gross state product by 3.5 per cent. Of the 8,000 jobs, 3,500 will be in shipbuilding and the rest in industries related to shipbuilding.
French company Naval Group (formerly DCNS) won the $50 billion contract to build the 12 Future Submarines at Osborne's Techport naval shipbuilding facility last year. Additionally, nine Future Frigates will be built by either BAE Systems, Fincantieri or Navantia under a $35 billion contract. Two of the 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels will also be built in SA prior to the commencement of the Future Frigates Project, at which point the remaining 10 will move to WA for construction.
Premier Weatherill praised the efforts of the Submarine Institute, the defence sector and the SA government in delivering these projects to the state, reflecting on the drastic changes in defence industry policy since Tony Abbott was ousted as prime minister and the plan to have Japan build and deliver 12 submarines was dumped, a decision strongly supported by Minister Pyne.
"When I stood before you at this venue – almost exactly two years ago – the future was very uncertain," Premier Weatherill said.
"The Australian defence industry had been presenting the facts and making the case – both of which were compelling – for a local build of the Australian Navy’s Future Submarines.
"But many of us continued to hold grave doubts, believing that the vessels might still be built overseas.
"The Prime Minister’s announcement – in April last year – that construction would be based at Osborne was a massive victory not merely for South Australia, but for the nation.
"The efforts of the Submarine Institute, the Australian defence sector and the South Australian government to secure the project for this country were crucial. Together, we demonstrated that when you’re united behind a common goal, when you have a powerful argument in hand and when you stand up for yourself, you can achieve great things."