Six naval architects are being paid almost $1 million each as private contractors to work on Australia’s submarine program, the Defence Department has confirmed.
Defence said the experts were being used for work on both the future submarine program as well as sustainment of the Collins Class fleet under a contract totalling $5,618,816 between 1 March 2017 and 30 June 2019.
The Federal Opposition has leapt on the revelation to again claim the cost of hiring consultants had “blown out” under the Turnbull Government.
“The Minister for Defence must explain why the Commonwealth is spending close to $6 million of taxpayers’ money for six consultant naval architects when the Department itself confirmed that there are naval architect positions waiting to be filled within the APS [Australian Public Service],” Labor Senator Kim Carr said.
“Defence projects should aim to build Australian manufacturing skills and capabilities for the long term and not be used to line the pockets of highly paid consultants.”
In the next few years, French company DCNS will start building 12 new submarines to replace Australia’s ageing Collins Class fleet, under a $50 billion contract awarded last year.
Defence said a recruitment effort was underway to engage more naval architects and structural engineers.
The department said positions for naval architects remained available within the Australian Public Service, and the six contracted naval architects were eligible to apply for these positions.