WA Gears Up To Take South Australian Submarine Sustainment Jobs: Pyne Focused on his Cabinet Job While Sub Jobs Go West

2 November 2018

South Australian jobs in submarine sustainment are at significant risk of being sent to Western Australia, with the WA state government unveiling a new plan to secure a role as the principal location or maintenance and sustainment for the Future Submarines and Future Frigates.

"We have the WA state government looking to take 1,100 SA jobs and SA’s most senior federal minister, and the Defence Minister to boot, sits silent," said Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick. "Minister Pyne is up to his old tricks again where he’s focusing on his cabinet job instead of SA jobs."

As previously revealed by Senator Patrick through FOI in May this year, the Navy is keen to shift Full-Cycle Dockings (FCDs) from South Australia to Western Australia, something Defence Minister Christopher Pyne has refused to rule out.

The WA Government has seized on this in its Western Australia Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan, listing the first of six key strategies as "Develop and promote the case for WA to be the principal location for maintenance and sustainment for the future submarines and frigates. These contracts are expected to exceed $50 billion through the life of the new fleets”.

WA Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia said: "The Federal Government has indicated strong support for the McGowan Government's plan. We look forward to working with them on its implementation."

"Who in the Federal Government have indicated this strong support for the Western Australian’s taking SA jobs?" asked Rex. "Is it Minister Pyne? Certainly he has failed to rule out the shift!”

"All the dots are stacking up against SA," said Rex." In a 2011 submarine basing document, mention was made of shifting FCDs to WA. Then we see Defence paying ASC for a study into conducting the shift. Finally, last week at Senate Estimates, the Head of the Future Submarine Program confirmed there are plans in development for ASC North, where the FCDs are currently carried out, to be used for the Future Submarine build activities rather than FCDs”.

"The move is on and Minister Pyne is sitting silent," said Rex.

Documents obtained by Senator Patrick in July revealed that the Future Submarines will be based on both the East and West Coast. Noting Adelaide is located centrally between the East and West coast, it makes sense that sustainment remains in Adelaide.

"South Australia is where all the deep-level knowledge of submarine build and sustainment exists in this country," said Rex.

"South Australians and workers at ASC need Minister Pyne to commit to keeping jobs in SA and to come out announce that ASC is to be responsible for sustainment of both Collins and the Future Submarines and that this sustainment will occur in Adelaide."

"It’s all well and good for the Government to boast about all the jobs the Future Frigates and Future Submarines build will bring to SA, but South Australian sustainment workers can’t be left wondering if they will have a future in SA or if the Government is expecting them to pack up their lives and move to the West."

"South Australians need a commitment from the Federal Government that the ongoing sustainment work of these vessels, work that will be around far longer than any particular build project, will remain in South Australia where the existing expertise has been cultivated for decades."

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