Austal Ships will build more patrol boats, such as this Cape Class vessel, in the coming decades. (ABC News: Andrew O’Connor)
The McGowan Government has claimed WA is being “dudded” over the Commonwealth’s Naval Shipbuilding Plan.
The 114-page document was released on Tuesday and details Australia’s largest ever shipbuilding and sustainment program.
But WA’s Minister for Defence Issues Paul Papalia said once again, the state had missed out.
“When it comes to defence shipbuilding, just like the GST, WA gets dudded,” he said.
“What I want to see is the West Australian Liberals deliver something for Western Australia.
“The Prime Minister went to South Australia today to confirm that of the $90 billion worth of ship and submarine construction, South Australia gets $86 billion of it.”
Mr Papalia said WA would receive just 4 per cent of work outlined in the Federal Government’s plan for local industry to complete major Defence work over the coming decades.
Just hours earlier at Austal shipyard in Henderson, WA senator Michaelia Cash spruiked the plan as a win for the state, but was not able to say how many jobs it would create.
“We have a proportion of that and we are delighted,” Senator Cash said.
“This provides certainty to shipbuilding industries such as the one here at Henderson and Austal for the next 20 years.”
But Mr Papalia dismissed the notion the state should see it as a win and argued WA was better resourced to take on the work.
“It’s incredible that someone would say they’re proud of representing their state and what we got in light of those figures,” Mr Papalia said.
Michaelia Cash could not say how many jobs the plan would create in WA. (ABC News: Andrew O’Connor)
“We have 100,000 people unemployed in Western Australia, many of them are highly skilled who came from industries that have identical skills required for shipbuilding.
“We also have the infrastructure right now to build ships.”
The plan acknowledged South Australia would struggle to find enough skilled workers and it would have to rely partly on foreign and interstate workers.
It was already announced last year that WA would build 21 steel-hulled Pacific patrol boats.
The Turnbull Government has committed a $100 million upgrade of facilities at WA’s Henderson shipyard.
Local industry welcomes upgrade
Austal CEO David Singleton said WA had won the fight to preserve its shipbuilding industry, with Henderson one of only two shipyards in the nation.
“We have won that particular battle,” he said.
Mr Singleton said the biggest benefit to WA would flow from the work sustaining the ships once they entered service.
“If I look at the yard today, we’re actually employing more people doing sustainment on existing ships than we are on building new ships,” he said.
Mr Singleton is still hoping to secure a contract to build 10 offshore patrol vessels.