Submarine manufacturing

The South Australian Government is campaigning to ensure the next generation of 12 submarines are built in SA.

Premier to new PM: build 12 submarines in Adelaide

Click here to read about the State Government's request that Prime Minister Turnbull rules out a foreign build of our submarines.

Government and unions agree to peaceful way forward on submarines

Click here to read about the accord the State Government has reached with three key unions to ensure industrial action does not obstruct a local build of future submarines in Adelaide.

Federal Government must rule out a hybrid or overseas submarine build

Click here for why the Federal Government must build all 12 submarines in SA.

Chris made this speech to the SA Parliament on 16 September 2014

This Sunday marked 100 years since Australia's first submarine, the HMAS AE1, was tragically lost off German New Guinea at the outbreak of World War I. Some 35 people were lost in that, and the submarine has never been found. That is a reminder to us of Australia's long history with submarines. We have a huge ocean front that needs to be protected. We rely heavily on maritime industries, and submarines are always going to be something that is essential to our national security.

This is particularly important to think about now as the federal government is considering the future for the next generation of submarines in Australia and specifically how they are going to be made and whether they keep their promise to make the next 12 submarines in Australia, at Adelaide, at the advanced Techport facility, or whether we go to another country and buy their submarines—specifically, Japan is being floated extensively by the federal government—and support their economy and support their industries.

As this is being debated at the moment—and I hope that the federal government is true to their word that they have not made a decision on this matter—I think it is something that we in South Australia need to be particularly concerned about. We need to consider the national interest elements of this decision, particularly what our national security requirements are, how it affects our national finances, our economy and also the faith people can have in promises that are made by politicians.

Firstly, on national security, none other than our Governor-General, Sir Peter Cosgrove, former chief of the Australian Defence Force, has previously outlined his reasons for why he believes submarines should be made in Australia, and chief among them is national security. He said:

Current Australian Government policy aims for self-reliance in the direct defence of Australia. That doesn't mean we should have a full suite of capabilities for every occasion. Nor does it preclude a degree of dependence on allied nations for collaboration on certain technologies. But it is absolutely within our best interests to develop, own and keep as much of our intellectual capital and capability as possible.

I think that really sums up that we need some self-sufficiency for Australia's technological ability for our Defence Force and also self-sufficiency of our supply for important defence technologies. I saw that Hans Ohff, who until recently was the head of the Australian Submarine Corporation here, made comments that if we did purchase submarines from Japan, and if Japan were to be involved in its own theatres of war or national emergencies, then we would never be able to rely upon spare parts being available for our submarines, we would never be able to rely on the expertise and engineers we needed to keep our submarines going because we would be reliant upon that other country.

A lot of the commentary on this has been about value for money. I note that the ABC has spoken to a number of military experts in Japan in recent days, and they have raised concerns about Australia's ability to get value for money if we did purchase the submarines from Japan. I note that Kazuhisa Ogawa, a former government defence adviser, is quoted as saying to the ABC:

It's an issue of hull strength. Japan has secret technology, like special steel and noise reduction. So the issue is how can we share it…

Another of the experts spoken to by the ABC was a former submarine commander, who said:

This is not just about building a hull, it's the most advanced submarine in the world and unless Australia studies it intensely and Japan helps, it will take decades…Australia could have many technical and implementation problems.

I also notice that Göran Roos, who is of course an expert in advanced manufacturing, was quoted as saying that the short lifespan of the Japanese submarines could pose an enormous problem and end up costing us twice as much.

In the few seconds I have left I would like to note with great disturbance the comments of the member for MacKillop, who advocated on behalf of purchasing submarines from Japan and said that that would be a better use of taxpayers' money. I think that is a disgusting indictment upon our industry in South Australia and not the sort of leadership we are looking for at this time.

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