ABC RADIO PERTH – DRIVE WITH BELINDA VARISCHETTI
TUESDAY, 16 MAY 2017
SUBJECT/S: National Shipbuilding Plan
BELINDA VARISCHETTI: The Federal Member for Fremantle is Josh Wilson. Josh Wilson what did you think of the Federal Government’s naval shipbuilding plan?
JOSH WILSON: Hi Belinda, well for Western Australia it’s incredibly disappointing, the disparity, the imbalance is about as stark as you can imagine. There’s $90billion worth of projects, and South Australia gets $86billion worth of it.
On specific new infrastructure, there’s over $1billion for South Australia while the $100million they mentioned for here in Western Australia was actually announced first in June last year, and then again in March, and today again for a third time. It’s a pathetic contribution at a time when WA has very high unemployment. We need a fair share of naval shipbuilding work.
VARISCHETTI: Why do you think South Australia was given the majority of the ship build then? As you said, South Australia is getting $86 of the $90billion in this plan.
WILSON: Well that’s only something the government can really explain. But Minister Christopher Pyne, he is unashamedly a warrior for South Australia. Every time he stands up in the Parliament he has a smile on his face like a Cheshire cat and he’s only too happy to put dollar figures and job numbers on what he’s delivering for South Australia. But we get nothing here, and his Western Australian Liberal colleagues are pretty happy for that to be the case, they certainly don’t seem to take issue with it. What’s really frustrating is that some of the spending they’ve applied in South Australia is to actually create capability and a workforce that we already have. So you have a new training facility in South Australia and you have new infrastructure but Western Australia has those skills and that workforce, and yet the plan they’ve released today talks about how the 5000 jobs in South Australia will rely on interstate migration, will rely on skills coming in from overseas, when people here are unemployed.
VARISCHETTI: Josh Wilson, as Mr Singleton pointed out, there will be lots of maintenance work there for decades to comes, that’s a good sign for Western Australia?
WILSON: Well it should be, and Mr Singleton does a good job of trying to be optimistic. But what you have to understand when it comes to naval shipbuilding sustainment – now that’s the maintenance of these very sophisticated vessels – is that if you don’t have the capacity to essentially be part of the construction phase, you won’t have the capacity to be participate in the maintenance. So the maintenance of a submarine for instance, the Collins Class submarine has an annual maintenance program that at the end of a ten year cycle essentially sees one of those vessels out of the water for nine or ten months. It’s almost like a substantial rebuild. So the idea that you just make it up on the sustainment or maintenance end is really just smoke and mirrors. Western Australia has to find a way to resist that game. We are being played, over and over again by a Federal Government, and by local Liberal members of parliament to keep playing the smoke and mirrors, to keep accepting the beads and the blankets, while all of this work and all of this investment goes elsewhere. If it goes on like this, if it continues with the imbalance in favour of other states, we are going to miss out big-time on work that both in terms of fairness and geo-strategically should come here to Western Australia.
VARISCHETTI: Josh Wilson, thank you for your time today.
WILSON: Thank you.