(Introduction and opening remarks)
If I may commence by making some detailed acknowledgements because in doing so I think we will get a feel for how vast the contributions of so many people have been in this programme.
Can I first of all acknowledge His Excellency Rear Admiral Kevin Scarce the Governor of South Australia and say how fitting it is that a Rear Admiral is here today as our principal VIP. This is a fabulous programme, a project of significance as I am sure the Governor understands, and I think it is wonderful that you, Governor, are here today as you have been in the past to see this project along the way at each milestone.
Vice Admiral Ray Griggs, our Chief of Navy, can I acknowledge all the Federal Senators, Members, State Members of Parliament that are here today and thank you for your attendance and your support.
May I say thank you and welcome to the Premier of South Australia the Honourable Jay Weatherill and the Minister for Defence Industry the Honourable Jack Snelling, thank you for the support that you have given Defence South Australia and this project.
Can I acknowledge Steven Marshall, Leader of the Opposition and Martin Hamilton-Smith the Shadow Minister for Economic Development, and thank them for the support they have given this project.
I also now turn to industry: Rod Equid, the AWD Alliance CEO that you have just heard from has done a magnificent job; Mr Michael Ward, Raytheon Managing Director; Steve Ludlum, ASC Managing Director and CEO, and also can I acknowledge the board of ASC and the contribution they have made.
I also want to say an acknowledgement to Bill Saltzer representing the CEO of BAE, particularly concerning the work in Victoria that they have done; Mr Paco Barón Bastarreche and Mr Gonzalo Mateo-Guerrero Alcázar from Navantia who have done a number of blocks also, and of course this is significantly a Navantia-designed ship; and last but certainly not least, Lindsay Stratton from Forgacs from the Hunter in New South Wales.
With 2,850 jobs directly applying to this programme you can see that it has been a programme of economic significance, particularly across South Australia with more than a 1,000 jobs here, but also into Victoria and New South Wales with a number of spinoffs into Queensland, Tasmania and Western Australia.
In thanking all of those contributions there is one contribution that I have omitted and I want to pause to say a special to right now and that is to the men and women, and I emphasise women, that are standing just over here to my right whose workmanship directly has produced such a fabulous result – sorry may I also be excused to acknowledge Chief of the Defence Force General David Hurley who has only just arrived, I looked at his seat and he was not sitting in it, my apologies General – the men and women that you see in these fluorescent jackets have done an absolutely outstanding job in terms of the trades that they have deployed and disposed to this programme.
It would be extremely remiss of me on behalf of the Commonwealth not to acknowledge the work that you have done in producing the first and, now as we come to this important milestone, the keel of the second of these outstanding vessels.
I’m not going to go on much further other than to say that the Royal Australian Navy with these AEGIS-equipped Air Warfare Destroyers will enter a new dimension, not in the tactical sense but the strategic sense. Some of you will understand the magnitude of what those words actually mean; these vessels will take us to a new generation, a new dimension, in Navy.
Again I want to thank all of those people who have contributed to this programme to this point; this is a very significant milestone for the programme.
It is a fabulous programme; it had its inauguration by a great South Australian in Robert Hill just under ten years ago.
I wish it every success in the future and I am looking forward to seeing these vessels on the seas in the future doing the sort of work that I believe and know that they will do in defending Australia.