Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price rejected claims that WA would lose billions a year due to the government’s decision to keep the Collins Class full-cycle docking in SA.
Speaking to Geoff Hutchison on ABC Radio Perth, Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price rejected claims from the West Australian government that the Commonwealth’s decision to keep the Collins Class full-cycle docking in South Australia would cost the state billions of dollars a year.
“Now, this fanciful figure of billions of dollars that’s been thrown around, I got the Defence Department to check that only a couple of days ago, because I had been hearing that,” Minister Price said.
“As I said, we’re already getting a significant amount of the maintenance work here in Western Australia for Collins. But extra per year would have been $100 million for the full‑cycle docking here in WA. Now, I’m not suggesting that is an insignificant amount of money, but it’s certainly not the billions of dollars that the state government has been spruiking.”
Currently, it is expected that full-cycle docking will remain in SA, while mid-cycle docking is to remain in WA.
Minister Price however reassured listeners that Western Australia would still see large growth in the military shipbuilding industry.
“So, the facts are that currently down at Henderson the Collins Class submarine intermediate and what we call mid-cycle dockings – that already takes place and that will continue until the mid-2040s. And that’s already supporting about 500 Australian jobs,” Minister Price said.
“Now, one thing people need to realise is that we’ve got a very ambitious shipbuilding program at the Morrison government. We’re going to need 15,000 people to work in shipbuilding. We’ve currently got 4,000 people working in shipbuilding, so we’ve got a long way to go. It is a task for all of us.
“Well, there’s a lot there to unpack, but let me say this to you. We have got two excellent locations in Australia for shipbuilding: Western Australia and South Australia. And we need thousands and thousands of more people to be able to live and work in both of those states.”
The announcement comes as Prime Minister Scott Morrison confirmed that the country would pursue the development of nuclear-powered submarines, cancelling the contract with Naval Group for the Attack Class submarine. As a stop gap, it is expected that the Collins Class will undergo indefinite sustainment until the new fleet can come online.
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[Related: ASC welcomes full-cycle docking decision]