Related ministers and contacts
Senator the Hon Marise Payne
Minister for Defence
- Henry Budd (Minister Payne’s office) 0429 531 143
- Defence Media (02) 6127 1999
27 April 2016
Interview on 5AA with David Penberthy and Will Goodings
Tuesday, 27 April 2016
Subjects: Submarine tender, Adelaide workers, relations with Japan
We've got the Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne, on the line now and we thank her for joining us here on 5AA Breakfast. Senator Payne good morning, thank you for your time.
Good morning gentlemen.
We're cock-a-hoop about the decision, couldn't be happier with it, and as we've been saying it's unadorned good news for people here in South Australia. But look, we'd like to invite you to knock on the head this suggestion from the Eastern states, particularly in The Telegraph this morning, that this is somehow an act of charity for a State that can't stand on its own two feet.
Well, I think we made our views very clear yesterday when we indicated that we had great faith in the Australian workers, in workers in the shipyard in Adelaide to make sure we can bring this project to fruition. This is a very, very important step for Australian capability, naval capability specifically. It's a very, very important step for Australian industry and for Australian workers. We are absolutely committed to making sure we work with DCNS to have the best possible submarine design, to give us the regional superiority that we need, and to deliver it from the shipyard in Adelaide.
Senator what made the DCNS bid ultimately successful over the German Type 216 and the Japanese Soryu?
All of the submissions from the three participants were very, very impressive, very comprehensive, very detailed, and it is a unique process. It's not one which is done around the world from day-to-day. But the very clear advice to us from Defence – the very clear advice to us – was that the DCNS design and proposal best met the strategic capability needs that we have. Now that includes the capacities for example to travel for very long distances, so range. It includes capacities for stealth. It includes very strong sensor capabilities. All of those combined resulted in this being the design that we were most strongly advised to accept.
So from here on in Minister, what does it look like if you're a worker at the ASC? Like how does the process sort of kick along from here and when will things actually start revving up?
So we actually had the chance to talk to some of the workers yesterday, which was a really good opportunity. What we've indicated is that the design process starts now in 2016. This is the most complex piece of manmade engineering in the world, so that doesn't happen overnight, as you can imagine. It's also really important not to rush that.
One of the challenges that we faced when we brought the Collins submarine into service was that many would say we did not take enough time over the design process to ensure that it was ready to go. So we will take what time we need, that will be six or seven years or so, and then we will start into the construction process.
In the meantime though, and I know my colleagues spoke to you about this last week, we have announced the commencement of our naval shipbuilding program, which commences with the Offshore Patrol Vessels in Adelaide in 2018, followed by the Future Frigates in Adelaide – a $35 billion program – in 2020. And that is part of this Government's very strong commitment to developing and ensuring we have a continuous naval shipbuilding industry in this country.
We saw yesterday that the Japanese Government issued a statement saying it deeply regretted the fact that they had not been the winning bidder despite some apparently warm signs by the former Prime Minister Tony Abbott, whether there was a nudge nudge, wink wink in their direction that they were travelling well with their bid, who knows. But do you think that there's a—is there any risk of enduring blowback from Japan over the fact that they didn't get up?
Well, I think the most important thing which both countries have said, Australia and Japan yesterday, is to reinforce our strong commitment to the special strategic partnership, which is a very important part of our relationship. We've both emphasised the capacity for bilateral engagement in that special strategic partnership and also the growing capacity for trilateral activities with Australia, Japan, and the United States. Now, in reinforcing that yesterday both the Prime Minister, myself, and the Foreign Minister have made very clear that that is the fundamental basis of our relationship with Japan in strategic terms and one which we will absolutely be maintaining and enhancing.
In terms of delivering a project of this size how satisfied are you that there—we've taken an option with the least amount of risk? I've seen in some circles the commentary has been we've had two options on the table in the German and Japanese models that have been in service for ten years, we might well have needed some modification to that. But there've been boats in the water where we've gone for a French option that is based on the denuclearisation of a submarine that yet hasn't even been built. It would seem that is a bigger and more complex project than perhaps the other bids would have been?
Well, I'm not going to comment on the individual bids. But what I will say and reiterate is that the advice from Defence in relation to this and the outcomes of the Competitive Evaluation Process were unequivocal in advising that this was the best option for Australia's needs, Australia's regional needs for a regionally superior submarine, and for the capability that we made very clear we required. So I have absolute confidence in that, as does the Prime Minister and the Cabinet, and that's why we are proceeding now with this option.
Minister, you rightly said yesterday that this was a decision that was based on national security, on our defence needs, and also economics but just to wrap up by looking at the politics; it had been mishandled by the Government, by your predecessor David Johnston in terms of the promise being made and then, you know, being abandoned with the unfortunate canoe remark by your colleague. Yesterday was also about trying to get the politics of this right again wasn't it?
I think David I would go back to where you started, which is to say that we need a regionally superior submarine, the best possible capability we have for Australia. That's what we will achieve out of this decision and that's the most important thing for our capacity, our naval capacity. But also it's the most extraordinary opportunity for Australian industry to participate in the development of a continuous naval shipbuilding industry based, in regards to the submarines and the Future Frigates, particularly in South Australia for workers and for business, this is a game changer.
Just before we let you go Senator, the decision to use steel from Whyalla at Arrium in the construction, did that eliminate any of the potential consortia that might well have been able to win the contract?
You're jumping slightly ahead of yourself. What we have said is that, as the design phase is rolled out, then we will be procuring (inaudible) Australian steel producing and steel production so it will be Australian steel. Don't know that we've specified as deep as Whyalla but it's the… well…
[Talks over] Oh come on. Come on. $50 billion in South Australia, we might as well go the whole hog.
You're keen as mustard and I love it…
… as my grandmother would have said but absolutely committed to the acquisition of Australian steel for the project.
Well, we're cheering for Arrium if you can't tell. Senator, thanks for your time this morning.
Henry Budd (Minister Payne's office) 0429 531 143
Defence Media (02) 6127 1999
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