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Wednesday, 3 September 2014
Page: 6384


Senator WRIGHT (South Australia) (16:29): I am pleased to speak to this motion, because I care about jobs and, as a South Australian senator, I especially care about South Australian jobs. The Australian Greens support the maritime engineering and shipbuilding industries. When it is in our national interest to procure naval vessels, we are committed to ensuring that manufacturing and building of the vessels occurs in Australia and that our naval vessels are maintained here in Australia. In the future, grappling with climate security threats will inevitably involve increasing naval capacity, particularly with regard to amphibious vessels, which will build local jobs, skills and investment in local design, building and maintenance of our navy and other ships. On an island continent I believe it is crucial that we have the advanced manufacturing know-how and capacity to build our naval vessels and ships.

Of course, there are always important questions to ask when defence procurement and the building of a multibillion-dollar fleet is being contemplated. Uppermost must be the confidence that they will meet Australia's security needs. We do not want to replicate circumstances that could allow for a repeat of the kind of acknowledged design mistakes that have occurred in the Collins-class submarines—mistakes which have not benefited the industry nor Australia's defence and security. What we do want, though, is the maintenance of advanced manufacturing as an industry in Australia and particularly in South Australia, a state which will be so adversely affected by the loss of the Holden manufacturing plant following previous losses of advanced manufacturing.

What we do have in South Australia is a skilled, sophisticated workforce capable of building the ships we need for the future—ships and vessels like landing helicopter docks, the vessels required for the Pacific patrol boat program and the vessels needed to replace the Armidale-class patrol boat. The South Australian workforce has the expertise, and these vessels should be built in South Australia.