The South Australian Premier, Steven Marshall has gone to war with his Western Australian counterpart, Mark McGowan, over $8 billion worth of submarine maintenance work.
McGowan has taken public a battle to take from Adelaide deep maintenance work on the Collins class submarines.
But while the Collins submarines were originally built in Adelaide, they are now based in Perth, close to the maritime industry precinct of Henderson, the home of shipbuilder Austal.
Yesterday McGowan said: “I don’t believe that South Australia can do everything that is needed.
“…moving Full Cycle Docking to Western Australia will grow the defence industry’s capabilities and it is considered best practice to conduct sustainment activities alongside where the submarines are based.”
His argument is that with Adelaide set to built Hunter class frigates and then Attack class submarines, it will be stretched to cover maintenance as well.
WA is set to build offshore patrol vessels, but otherwise has emerged as the maintenance base for the RAN, with Adelaide the constructor.
Marshall hit back saying Osborne naval shipyard was the home of the Collins, with 700 experienced and skilled ASC staff working on the programme. Another 400 ASC staff are based at Henderson in WA.
He said: “It would be a big risk, a big risk (to move to Perth).”
With 3,000 full and part time jobs at risk, the battle has been going on behind the scenes for some time, and is likely to get bitter, and political.
Marshall said he had an assurance from prime minister, Morrison that Adelaide would be able to make its case before any decision was taken.
However given the political situation, with only one coalition seat considered marginal in SA, and far more in WA, Adelaide has a battle ahead of it to keep the work.
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