15 December 2016
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Thank you very much, Herve Guillou; the Ambassador for Australia, Steven Brady; the Ambassador for France, Christophe Lecourtier; to members of the parliament and the local government here in Cherbourg; to Admiral Johnston and to Admiral [indistinct]. Thank you very much for the opportunity to be here, to be part of this building of this relationship with DCNS and Australia. I’d also like to recognise the workers because the workers of DCNS here at Cherbourg should be incredibly proud of what you have achieved here in recent years but over 116 years. Getting the opportunity to tour this facility today and to actually touch and feel submarines being made, see how it’s done from one shed to another, the virtual reality hub from the research and development and so on, really brings home to me the critical importance of the decisions the government made in Australia to choose DCNS to build 12 regionally superior submarines.
DCNS has already proven to be a terrific partner, the relationship between the government to government, the Department of Defence and DCNS is working extremely well but we don’t want to lose sight of why we want to build 12 submarines and why we want to build them in Australia. We need 12 submarines so that we have a – the most potent weapon in our armaments replacing the Collins class submarines. So we’ll go from six submarines to 12 submarines, giving us a kind of capacity to project power in our region that is important for a country of our size and our commitment to freedom and to liberty, to a rules-based international order.
We want to not just be a country that is very willing to have a force projection to be involved in operational matters, as we are now with France in Iraq and in Syria and in Afghanistan and other parts of the world, many countries are willing but we have to be a country that can actually contribute. We are a very wealthy country, as a consequence we have a responsibility to do our part to, as Donald Trump says, not be strategic bludgers but actually lift our percentage of spending of GDP to 2 per cent which we’ll do by 2020-21 and the submarine project starting now - starting production in 2022 to ’23 will be a significant part of the contribution that we make around the world to peace and security and the support for our values because Australia has a values-based foreign policy.
Can I just say also, that the program is going very, very well. I’m sure most of you who have worked in this part of the economy or worked with the Ministry of Defence or Department of Defence expect sometimes for delays to creep in, to - blowouts to start to happen, I’m sure that never happens in France, it sometimes happens in Australia but so far everything that we’ve wanted to do with DCNS has happened when we wanted it to happen and there has been no delay, no laggardliness in our relationship with DCNS. So that Design and Mobilisation contract has been signed. This security agreement was signed by my colleague, George Brandis, last week. The intergovernmental agreement will be signed next week when Minister Le Drian visits Australia and signs that agreement with the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence next Monday. It’s a very significant step along the way.
The Government of Australia has structurally separated the Australian Submarine Corporation into submarines sustainment and maintenance, shipbuilding and infrastructure so that the structures are being put in place. We’ve chosen Lockheed Martin to be the combat system integrator. The first Australians have started coming to Cherbourg to learn about your system of how you build a submarine, so we are well and truly advanced with our relationship with DCNS and one of my most important tasks as the Minster for Defence Industry is to keep the program on time and I would like to really think DCNS and the Government of France because every step along the way, they have been very genuine, very decent, honest and trustworthy partners. And since we will have a relationship together, between France and Australia, through this program as well as many others, but particularly through this program now for many, many decades into the future, it’s important that relationship begins well and stays strong and stays trusting for all the decades that we will be very closely tied together.
So thank you very much for the opportunity to be here. I really appreciated Herve’s extending the hand of friendship to me and taking me around your yards here. Congratulations on what you already do and I look forward to our successes in the future as we see our submarines rolling off our production lines in Adelaide.
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