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MINISTER REYNOLDS:Good morning, everyone. It is an absolute privilege and a delight to be here in Osborne in South Australia for the handover of the NUSHIP Sydney – the third in Australia’s Hobart class of Air Warfare Destroyer. This marks the end of the Air Warfare Destroyer project but the true beginning of our national naval shipbuilding endeavour, which will provide jobs and capability built right here in Australia for decades and generations to come.
It is important that we provide our Navy with the best possible capability and fortunately we are able to build that capability right here in Australia and here in Adelaide. Our Navy is incredibly busy. Last year alone, they did 200 port visits to 32 countries, they participated in over 30 exercises and they have on average now over 20 ships a day at sea. So it is important that we continue to build the best possible capability.
But this program is not just about ensuring that our Navy has the best capability. It is also about building a sovereign industrial capability right here in Australia and that is what we are doing.
I’ll have over now to Chief of Navy to tell you more about this amazing NUSHIP.
CHIEF OF NAVY: Thanks very much, Minister. Ladies and gentlemen, Sydney along with her sister ships HMAS Hobart and Brisbane are the most capable ships in the Australian Navy, and they are arguably amongst the most capable and potent in the world. This ship can operate in a multiple domain; she can operate against air attack, she can operate against surface attack and has a very capable undersea capability. But more importantly, she operates in a state-of-the-art environment in terms of her communication systems and the most important thing that I see about this ship is the facilities it offers for the ship’s company. She’s a modern, safe, comfortable ship and will serve our Navy and the men and women who serve in her for years to come.
TONY DALTON: Minister, thanks. I’ve been working a little bit around the naval shipbuilding enterprise. This program has laid the foundation, as the Minister said, for continuous naval shipbuilding in Australia. Over 5,000 Australians have worked on this program so far; 2,700 Australia small- and medium-sized industries have contributed to the delivery of this program and the delivery of this great ship today, so I think that’s a really important effort and will build on those foundations as we go into the Hunter class frigate and the Attack class submarine that will be all built right here in Osborne in South Australia.
JOURNALIST:Rear Admiral, could you tell us a little bit about the SeaSparrow and Nulka?
CHIEF OF NAVY: SeaSparrow and the Nulka? Sure, of course. Sea Sparrow is a surface-to-air missile capability which is resident in this ship and also in our Anzac class frigates. It’s a great missile in terms of self-defence. The Nulka is an Australian designed and built ship system which provides an off-board decoy system for – it provides protection against enemy missiles that could potentially threaten the ship.
JOURNALIST: Admiral, the US defence security agencies [inaudible] lofty new equipment which Australia will be buying – or hopes to buy – including moving baseline up to [inaudible] which obviously involves ballistic missile defence. When’s that gonna happen?
CHIEF OF NAVY: The evolution path of the combat system in this ship, along with the Hobart and the Brisbane, will continue to evolve and we’ll continue to work with our US partners to ensure that we’ve got the most capable facilities in this ship and decisions about further capabilities into the future, we’ll make those when we’re good and ready.
JOURNALIST: But you’re buying the equipment? What are you going to do with it, look at it?
CHIEF OF NAVY: We’re going to buy the combat system which will keep this ship in a modern configuration. In terms of weapon systems that might subsequently be used, that’ll be a decision later on.
JOURNALIST: In layman’s terms, can you just describe to us what these ships are used for for people at home who don’t know?
CHIEF OF NAVY: So in layman’s terms, a destroyer is a ship that provides protection to other ships, aircraft and potentially submarines that are operating in a task group. The Australian Navy’s operating profile is about task group operations and the destroyers will play a central part in ensuring that task groups and the men and women who operate in them can do so safely and effectively
JOURNALIST: So this is like the first port of call for the Navy’s protection?
CHIEF OF NAVY: This is the outer ring.
JOURNALIST: Minister, you saw Prime Minister Macron in Munich last week. Did you discuss Attack class [inaudible] with him and can you share what was said?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: Since becoming Minister for Defence, I’ve been in constant contact with the French Minister for Defence Florence Parly about the Attack class program. At our most recent meeting a couple of weeks ago, we both confirmed and re-acknowledged that this is an important sovereign capability and project for both nations. And we are both personally committed to working together to ensure that the project is on time, is on cost, which it is, and also most importantly I think for here particularly in South Australia, that the Australian industry content is as maximised as possible. We did agree, and I announced last week, that we’ve agreed to a 60 per cent minimum and we will work upwards from there. The Minister will be coming to Australia later in the year and I look forward to bringing her to South Australia and talking about local industry content and ensuring that the spirit and the word of our contract and our partnership is complied with.
JOURNALIST: Will you be meeting with Naval Group while you’re here and are you guys both on the same page now with the plans moving forward?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: As the customer, I am sure that Naval Group is on board and has no doubt whatsoever what their requirements are to deliver this, and in fact they have just put on their 200th employee here in South Australia, so I’m visiting them this afternoon to meet the staff and congratulate them and to welcome them to the project.
JOURNALIST: That 60 per cent, Minister, does that include things like the property bought offshore like main engine, switchboard and a variety of other things?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: That’s a good point. There’s a number – there’s actually over a million components that we are currently designing because don’t forget we are currently in the preliminary design phase for this capability. But there is over a million separate components that we’ve gotta design and then make sure that they work together seamlessly as a capability. So it’ll be about another two – between two and three years before we’re in a position to go out to Australian industry for a large part of those because we simply haven’t finished the design of them yet. But there’s over 1,600 companies that have put expressions of interest in to Naval Group and over 3,500 have also sort of engaged with the company, so the company is doing those early engagements and we are making sure that they look hard and they find – for the things that we can produce here in Australia, that we make sure that we procure them here.
JOURNALIST: What’s your message to those suppliers and contractors who are hoping to get jobs with the new shipbuilding? What should they be doing?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: Well ultimately this Government has invested $90 billion into upgrading naval capability and doing it here in Australia. That’s 57 ships which are in production which are already underway both in Western Australia and here in Adelaide for the first two Offshore Patrol Vessels, so this is not the only program that Australians across a wide range of endeavours and a wide range of products and goods and services can engage across the entire naval shipbuilding program. We’ve already got hundreds of companies who are in the supply chain for the Guardian class which we’re producing in Perth and also great news you may not have heard but Luerssen who are producing OPVs have already reached 60 per cent Australian industry content and in fact the AWD Alliance for the three ships – one of which we’re standing on today – has achieved over 60 per cent of Australian industry content, and we are really delighted because, as I think Chief of Navy said, that’s over 5,000 Australian workers have been involved in the life of this project to get these three magnificent ships for our nation. So there’s a lot of opportunities.
JOURNALIST: When are you making a decision on the jobs for full cycle docking? What’s your message while you’re here in South Australia?
MINISTER REYNOLDS: The Government as I’ve always said, and as the Prime Minister has reaffirmed, is that it is important that we get this decision right to ensure that we continually upgrade in the most effective way the Collins through the second half of its life. We are considering the matter and we’ll make the decision in the national interest and to quote the Prime Minister, we’ll make the decision when we are in a position to make the right decision for our nation.
JOURNALIST: Those workers who don’t know what they’re doing now though –
MINISTER REYNOLDS: We’ll make the decision at the appropriate time for the project and also for our nation. Thank you.