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Thank you very much firstly to Ken and to John for the very kind invitation and your very warm welcome. I’m absolutely delighted to be able to come to South Australia in person at Naval Group today to mark this very significant step in this important project for our nation.
Today is unequivocally a great day. It’s a great day for Defence. It’s a great day for Navy. It’s a great day for Australian manufacturing. And it is a great day for Australian workers. As they said, it’s growth for generations. In fact, growth for the next 50 years and beyond.
First of all, I acknowledge the Kaurna people, the traditional owners of the land on which we meet today and Michael, I pay my respects to you and to your elders, past, present and emerging.
And can I say – go Power.
As Minister for Defence, I also pay my respects to current and former serving Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women, who have and continue to serve our nation with distinction in defence and also in the ADF.
I would like to acknowledge a few very special people to the program:
First of all, to my very good friend and colleague, Senator the Hon. Simon Birmingham. It’s wonderful to have you now as the Minister for Finance, as a new wing person on this project and I’m very conscious that you and I are custodians of this, started by our colleague, and welcome, Christopher Pyne. It’s wonderful to see you here today and I am certainly a custodian of this wonderful project as Minister for Defence, as the many other Ministers for Defence who follow us, will be for this project.
To the Premier Steven Marshall, it’s wonderful that you can be here today and thanks to you and your officials and to your colleagues for your support and your partnership in this incredibly important national project.
And to all of my state and federal colleagues here today, it’s wonderful to see you. Could I also just make a very special acknowledgement and say thanks to the defence and the ADF staff here today. Andrew Sammut, Tony Dalton and your teams – you have done an extraordinary job to get us to this point on a very ambitious project, so my thanks to you as Minister for Defence.
And of course to all of you up the back but most importantly, thank you very much to the staff of Naval Group and Defence and many other people who are represented here today.
Our partnership is really at the cutting edge of Australian defence industry and together all of you, with your hands and with your minds, are really contributing in extraordinary ways to our nation’s security. And I very much look forward to touring this facility and talking to as many of you as I can after this ceremony.
And can I also give a very special shout out to the 60 plus Australians who are with their families in Cherbourg, France. They are learning the know-how and know-why to bring this technology and the build and the design and the jobs here to Australia. You might be in France but you are certainly not forgotten.
I’d like to address very briefly the strategic environment which makes this new capability so important for our nation. Across our region, nations are investing in, and expanding their submarine fleets. By the end of this decade, half of the world’s submarines will be operating in our region. There is no doubt whatsoever that submarines are – and will continue well into the future – to be crucial to our nation’s defences.
But this is not just the view of the Australian Government – it is also the view of every significant nation in our region. A region which is now facing the most consequential strategic realignment since the end of World War Two. Maritime influence is absolutely fundamental to our regional security and also to our own nation’s interests. Undersea capability – both submarine and anti-submarine warfare more generally – are crucial as our geostrategic environment becomes increasingly complex and more contested.
This is why we are investing not only in submarines, but also in the systems to reduce the undersea capability of potential foes. And it’s also really important to remember that today, Australia has a regionally-superior and a highly-capable submarine fleet – and that is our six Collins class submarines – which are only halfway through their working life. To retain a formidable undersea force well into the future – as we’ve seen, out for 50 years - this Government is doubling the size of our submarine fleet from 6 to 12 Attack Class submarines.
Naval Group Australia and also Australian industry more widely are absolutely central to our commitment to maintain a regionally superior submarine from the 2030s. The design and also the build of the Future Submarine Program, without question, is an incredibly ambitious endeavor. But it is one that this Government can, and I have no doubt, will deliver.
Naval Group Australia has committed to spend at least 60 per cent of its contract value through the life of this project, right here in Australia. I’d like to emphasise that this is not a maximum target. It is a starting point. A starting point with every ambition and every expectation of reaching the highest level possible.
Today, as John said, is about raising the bar even further for this project. And that is exactly what we have done with the launch of the $900 million dollar Local Manufacturing Package campaign. This campaign for the Attack Class Submarine offers Australian companies the opportunity to manufacture 23 unique pieces of equipment. Equipment that is absolutely central to submarine operations. It will be designed by Naval Group and the equipment will be manufactured right here in Australia. By Australian industry. With Australian workers. Much of this equipment will be an Australian-first to be manufactured here in Australia.
This is, without question, a very significant step-change for our nation. It is a step-change in Australian industry involvement. It is a step-change in opportunities to grow Australian industry. It is a step-change in strengthening Australia’s sovereign industrial base. And it is also a step change in securing long-term and economic benefits for our nation.
Naval Group’s new office here at Port Adelaide will host its 250-strong workforce. Congratulations – I was only here a couple of months ago and it was 200. There is a 350 capacity and by the sounds of it, you may need another new building very shortly, John. But over the life of the Future Submarine Program, Australian industry partnerships will create 2,800 jobs. In this package of works that has been announced today, Naval Group Australia estimate that hundreds of new jobs will be created throughout the life of this Program. The Morrison Government’s commitment to Defence capacity goes absolutely hand-in-hand with Australia’s economic recovery and the creation of new generational jobs here in Australia.
The Morrison Government is keeping Australians safe – and also keeping Australians in jobs.
So in conclusion, my sincere thanks to all who are working together – those of you who are here, those of you in France and all over this nation – I thank you for working together in partnership to deliver the biggest ever defence project in our nation’s history.
Your efforts are at the heart of Australia’s recovery from a very tough year. They do set a new standard for partnership and working together across many sectors in Australian industry. I am so proud of the efforts and the work that defence, Naval Group Australia with many other partners here today – that you’ve done together to make this project a reality.
It is on time, it is on budget and it is going to be an astonishing capability for Australia.
I’ll finish on this point. Security brings peace, and peace brings prosperity and this project delivers them both.
Thank you very much and congratulations to everybody today.