• Senator Rex Patrick introduced the bill. Credit: R. Patrick via Twitter
    Senator Rex Patrick introduced the bill. Credit: R. Patrick via Twitter

Centre Alliance has introduced the Defence Amendment (Sovereign Naval Shipbuilding) Bill 2018 into the Senate to 'inject the concept of sovereignty' back into Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding program.

"At a time of uncertainty for Australia's strategic future, and only a week after ASC decided to cut over 200 shipbuilding jobs in South Australia, this Bill is critical to Australian shipbuilding," Senator Rex Patrick said.

"This Bill will ensure all new naval vessels (for example, patrol boats, frigates, destroyers, submarines, supply ships) would be built in Australia by Australian-controlled companies."

Centre Alliance says it is fully supportive of the Federal Government’s $90 billion continuous Naval Shipbuilding program, but improvements to it are required in the interests of national security and to maximise the economic benefit of the program to Australia.

"It is hard to avoid the conclusion that the bureaucrats advising Government are determined to see the quiet death of a sovereign shipbuilding capability in Australia and its replacement with foreign entities operating on Australian waterfront real estate. This has to stop," Patrick said.

"The new Bill will contain a provision that will mean the law applies from the date it was announced - as has been done for other Government bills. This will have effect on both the Future Submarine Program, for which no build contract has yet been signed, and the Future Frigate Program."

The introduction of the bill follows the release of the Defence Industrial Capability Plan, which sets out the need for a 'significant Australian presence' for companies wishing to participate in the government's Defence spend, including bidders for Sea 5000.

In recent weeks, bidder Fincantieri has contracted two SA firms and WA's Hofmann Engineering to build parts for the Italian company's cruise ships in preparation for the Sea 5000 decision. Hofmann has also partnered with Navantia for their Future Frigate bid. 

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