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Labor supports local build of naval ships: inquiry finding.

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Media Release

Senator Mark Bishop Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, Procurement and Personnel ref:defipp.m&pr/086-06

Labor supports local build of naval ships: Inquiry finding 7th December 2006

A year-long inquiry into Naval Shipbuilding has handed down a raft of recommendations aimed at scrutinising the way the Government procures its vessels and fosters associated home-grown industries, Senator Mark Bishop said today.

The Shadow Minister for Defence Industry, Procurement and Personnel said the 160-odd page report, tabled today, recommends the Government should articulate its policy on local industry involvement and provide a public statement on how it intends to involve that in naval procurement projects.

Furthermore, the Government should declare how it values, and the weight it gives to, Australian industry involvement.

"The committee found there are three critical factors for a viable industry," Senator Bishop said. These are • Continuity of Defence demand • Long product run

• Long-term planning

"The Government has failed all these critical needs," Senator Bishop said.

The inquiry was sparked by an earlier Federal Government decision to build three Air Warfare Destroyers, worth $6 billion, in South Australia. It looked at Australia's capacity to sustain a naval maritime construction industry and whether it is cheaper to buy vessels overseas.

"What we found at the inquiry is Australia has a vibrant small ship building industry and Labor believes this should be developed more at the heavy end as well," Senator Bishop said. "Australia has the skills, the workforce and a very capable heavy engineering sector. The nation also needs to boost its manufacturing sector and the defence industry is a key to this."

The Inquiry found weaponry systems and fit-out was the key to naval shipbuilding, rather than the actual build of the vessels. This meant a new paradigm of such shipbuilding has emerged, where the vessel's modules are made at different sites and assembled at one site.

"Labor supports the local build of naval shipbuilding provided the Government gets the best deal for taxpayers," Senator Bishop said.

In all, more than 50 submissions were received by the Inquiry from State Governments, unions, businesses and industry specialists. Senators travelled across Australia to hear evidence on Australia's naval shipbuilding industry. The findings attracted unanimous support of all Parties.

Media Details: Lydia Roberts 0415 374 983/(02) 6277 3101