The local content figure for the $80 billion Attack class submarines to be built in Adelaide appears to be settling at 60 per cent.
This is well below original assertions by the French constructor, Naval Group that a hybrid French/Australian build would see local content at 70 per cent, and building all 12 boats locally would bring 90 per cent.
Naval Group executive Jean-Michael Billig appeared at Senate estimates this week and is being reported as telling the committee that at least 60 per cent of the contract value would be spent locally.
He said: “We are confident this can be achieved as we will be building the entire fleet of 12 submarines in Australia.”
Defence minister Linda Reynolds issued a statement affirming the promise of 60 per cent.
She said: “I have received an undertaking from (French defence) minister Parly that Naval Group is committed to a level of Australian industry capability of at least 60 per cent of the contract value spent in Australia.
“While I welcome this commitment, the Morrison Government will hold Naval Group to account on their contractual commitment to maximise Australian industry involvement in this program, as per the objectives outlined in the Strategic Partnering Agreement.”
While a verbal commitment might satisfy Reynolds it is not a contracted figure, and this government and this minister will not be in power when submarines are being delivered in the 2020s and 2030s.
So we have a figure, down on original promises, and actually still no more than a commitment to maximise Australian industry involvement.
The 60 per cent figure did not impress SA Senator Patrick at estimates who said of Naval Group’s submission on the matter: “I am concerned this document is a bit of a fraud.”
Rather like the whole sad story of a 90 per cent promise, now discounted to one of 60 per cent made by a French company to a French minister and passed on to our own.
Time will tell but it can hardly be a matter for local confidence.
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