Shipbuilding torpedoed

FREMANTLE Labor MP Josh Wilson has joined WA defence issues minister Paul Papalia in claiming the Turnbull government has dudded WA over defence shipbuilding.

Earlier this week prime minister Malcolm Turnbull and defence infrastructure minister Christopher Pyne released Defence’s naval shipbuilding plan, which is aimed at the biggest regeneration of Australia’s naval capability since World War II.

It commits the government to building 21 patrol boats, 12 offshore patrol vessels, nine frigates and 12 submarines by 2040.

All up, with infrastructure, it will put back taxpayers a cool $90 billion.

But, says Mr Papalia, WA will get just 4 per cent of the work while Mr Pyne’s home state of South Australia will pick up the rest.

• Fremantle MP Josh Wilson says defence minister Christopher Pyne has torpedoed WA.  Photo by Steve Grant

Mr Wilson is worried it will even get worse; part of the plan will see South Australia build the first two patrol vessels before switching to the more complex frigates as its Osborne shipyard gets upgraded.

WA is then expected to pick up the remaining 10 patrol vessels, but Mr Wilson says if there’s any delay in South Australia’s upgrade, that might not go ahead and WA will miss out again.

“The rushed implementation of the [patrol vessel] build program may well lead to reduced levels of Australian involvement in the supply chain,” he further warned.

“Christopher Pyne is unashamedly a warrior for South Australia, but as minister for defence industry his one-eyed focus on his home state is hurting WA.

“He grins like a Cheshire cat every time he announces more money and more jobs for South Australia, while there’s stony silence from his WA Liberal colleagues.”

WA Liberal senator Michaelia Cash said she was “delighted” WA had won a portion of the shipbuilding, while shipbuilder Austal’s CEO David Singleton told the ABC that WA had won the fight to preserve the industry.

by STEVE GRANT

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