Illawarra MPs Sharon Bird and Stephen Jones have today called on the federal Government to ensure Australian steel features prominently in the nation’s submarine plans.
Reports this morning indicate that France will be the winner of a $50 billion bid to build the next generation of navy submarines.
It follows the announcement last week that a new fleet of 12 offshore patrol navy boats will be built in South Australia from 2018 and Western Australia from 2020. Defence Minister Marise Payne said that Australia didn’t produce “suitable steel” for the ships, a claim strongly denied by the Illawarra MPs who said that Australian producers did have the capacity to produce the required product.
Stephen Jones said that the submarine build presented yet another opportunity for the Government to provide leadership on steel.
“The steel for these subs can and should come from the Illawarra. We have the capacity in local companies like BlueScope and Bisalloy to produce the steel for these projects.
“Under Labor a the company behind a project like this would have to demonstrate how it would allow Australian businesses to participate in the supply of goods and services as part of the build.
“Our plan will maximise the use of Australian steel in government-funded projects like these.This is a test for Mr Turnbull and Mr Pyne.”
Sharon Bird said that the Government has been silent on whether Australian-made steel could be used in the massive submarine build.
“Seizing domestic opportunities like this one is essential but the Government has remained asleep at the wheel. This must change immediately, the Coalition’s record has to improve.
“The project will benefit construction workers in Adelaide but the Government hasn’t said a thing about whether local steel could play a part.
“As with the shipping announcement, it makes sense to involve Australian steel producers. Producers like BlueScope produce a high quality product and there is no reason that we couldn’t use this steel for our submarines.”