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Defence shipbuilding rationalisation is dead.

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3 February 2004


The Minister for Defence today made it clear by omission that his vision of Defence shipbuilding rationalisation, with the creation of a single provider, is dead.

18 months ago, Robert Hill was happily talking up the prospect of rationalisation, claiming that this was the way forward for the shipbuilding sector to achieve greater value for money, efficiency and flexibility.

Now it seems that Senator Hill has given up, in an admission of his failure to win Cabinet endorsement for his plans.

Reports of the Minister’s defeat in Cabinet seem to be confirmed by his failure to mention the rationalisation that he once championed.

The Minister released the Naval Shipbuilding and Repair Sector Plan in August 2002, with the promise that Cabinet would consider it the following month.

Now the Minister has announced yet another review of naval shipbuilding, this time to be headed by a consulting and investment firm.

Senator Hill’s only solution to Defence problems is to conduct yet more reviews and reform programs.

The Minister’s speech today also exposes his failure to provide any certainty about the future of the Australian Submarine Corporation.

The ASC is vital to Australia’s strategic interests, given its unique capability to service and support our submarine fleet.

The Howard Government’s continued inability to resolve the future ownership of the ASC is jeopardising the future of this national asset and potentially delaying the air-warfare destroyer project, Australia’s next major naval acquisition.

For information: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Mathew Stephenson 0408 577 617