Senator the Hon Mathias Cormann
Minister for Finance
Deputy Leader of the Government in the Senate
Senator for Western Australia
MATHIAS CORMANN: Good morning, everyone. Today is a great, great day for Western Australia. I am here with my Senate colleagues, Senator Linda Reynolds and Senator Slade Brockman, to talk about our Government’s decision to allocate the contract, the up to $4 billion contract, for the building of the twelve offshore patrol vessels under our defence white paper, which was announced by the Prime Minister over east today.
We have decided to allocate the contract for the twelve offshore patrol vessels to Luerssen, a German ship-builder, as the prime contractor, but working to deliver those twelve offshore patrol vessels with Australian workers, Australian steel on Australian shipyards.
Specifically, the first two offshore patrol vessels, working through the ASC in Adelaide. Then, the subsequent, the next ten offshore patrol vessels here in Western Australia, out of Henderson, working with Austal and working with Civmec. There is more work to be done to finalise the commercial negotiations, but that is what the Government has decided is the appropriate and the best way forward.
This is an exciting opportunity. It will create about a thousand new jobs. Four hundred direct jobs in high end manufacturing down at Henderson to build the ten offshore patrol vessels and six hundred indirect jobs as part of the supply chain. Given that ten out of the twelve offshore patrol vessels will be built here in Western Australia, that is a great opportunity for West Australian suppliers to be part of that supply chain.
It is a great day for WA. It consolidates Western Australia as one of two locations, two naval shipbuilding locations in Australia. It means that we now have the opportunity to further develop our already incredible expertise in ship building and to further develop the strength of our shipbuilding export industry, by really ramping up our capability when it comes to naval shipbuilding.
I will ask Linda and Slade to say a few words. Then we are happy to take questions.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Thank you. Well there is no happier Australian Senator than this one here today. After two years of advocacy on behalf of the West Australian shipbuilding industry, we are now not only the second naval shipbuilding hub for Australia, but also now on the cusp of being a global ship builder, exporting to our region. I just want to commend the Federal Government for the approach they have taken. We have got the best designer and we have got the best of the capabilities that we have down in Henderson. It is a brilliant day for Western Australia and I think we will be looking back at this in 30 years' time and just seeing this as a complete turning point for this industry here in Australia, because not only are we building the OPVs here, 10 of them, but we are also maintaining and sustaining them here. So there are multi-generations of jobs just in this project alone, and all of the projects that will flow from this as we develop as a shipbuilding hub in our region. Thank you.
MATHIAS CORMAN: Slade.
SLADE BROCKMAN: Thank you very much. Thank you, Minister. This is a fabulous announcement for Western Australia. Senator Reynolds has been advocating on this issue for a long period of time and I'm relatively new to the Senate, but already in my three months in Senate, I've been to the Henderson shipbuilding precinct three times. Once with a $207 million announcement with the Prime Minister for an upgrade to an anti-missile defence system. I was with the Minister for Defence for the $367 million upgrade to the Stirling naval base. And just yesterday I was actually at a private enterprise, a graphene production facility that was opening its new facility in the Henderson precinct. So never let it be said that Western Australia doesn't build anything, because we build many things and we build them very well. So this is a great announcement today.
LINDA REYNOLDS: Hear, hear.
MATHIAS CORMANN: Happy to take questions.
QUESTION: Minister, will there be an immediate impact for the WA economy?
MATHIAS CORMANN: The impact is already happening in that we have got Austal right now building 21 Pacific Patrol Boats. We have now got, Lürssen already establishing their presence here and in South Australia, working with Civmec and into the future with Austal. So this will now ramp up. Once we start building, the offshore patrol vessels here in Western Australia, there will be an additional four hundred-odd jobs from that time onwards to build those 10 offshore patrol vessels here in WA and another six hundred-odd jobs as part of the supply chain.
QUESTION: Would you support an inquest into the Cabinet leaks?
MATHIAS CORMANN: I do not comment on gossip. It is very important for Cabinet discussions to be confidential. It is a very important part of making sure that we get the best possible decisions for Australia. That is the way I conduct myself. I do not have any further comments.
QUESTION: And what do you make of Turnbull's meeting with a potential Chinese investor?
MATHIAS CORMANN: All of us in politics on all sides of politics have to attend functions and attend events, all over Australia. We meet a lot of people. I understand that this catch-up or this meeting fell into that category.
QUESTION: Minister, do you have any idea of the value of the maintenance contract for these offshore patrol vehicles?
MATHIAS CORMANN: It will be substantial. Right now it is a matter of building them. Here in Western Australia we are already of course responsible for a large part of the maintenance of our Collins Class submarines. As we increase the size of our naval fleet, the maintenance activities, self-evidently will also increase. There is going to be a whole series of additional employment opportunities here in Western Australia in that context. To quantify that specifically right now is not something that I am in a position to do.