The government has awarded TAFE Queensland a $36 million contract to provide mariner training and support to the Navy crews of the Guardian-class Patrol Boats, removing the contract from the Australian Maritime College (AMC) in Tasmania after three decades.
The funding is being delivered as part of the $2 billion Pacific Maritime Security Program.
Acting Minister for Defence, Senator Marise Payne, said the Pacific Maritime Security Program training contract was designed to adapt and adjust, to meet the needs of Pacific partners.
“A modern and innovative training approach offered by TAFE Queensland will have significant strategic benefits in the Pacific,” Minister Payne said. “TAFE Queensland has already established important relationships and arrangements with the Commonwealth and Pacific Island country governments, industries and communities.
“This, coupled with their established infrastructure in Australia and experience in delivering services in the Pacific, will enable TAFE Queensland to help achieve the outcomes of the Pacific Step-Up Program and the Pacific Maritime Security Program.
“This contract builds upon the success of the previous Pacific Patrol Boat training services contract, by providing new contemporary training for the Guardian-class Patrol Boat crew.”
Attending the contract signing in Cairns, Member for Leichhardt, Warren Entsch welcomed the announcement.
“I am thrilled that TAFE Queensland has been awarded this significant contract which will bring economic benefits to the region,” Entsch said. “Cairns is ideally located to mount and sustain maritime patrol and hydrographic operations, and the base is well served by the local Cairns ship repair industry.”
Under the Pacific Maritime Security Program, Australia is replacing the existing Pacific Patrol Boats with 21 new Guardian-class Patrol Boats to 12 Pacific Island nations and Timor-Leste to enhance regional maritime capability and capacity.
In a statement cited by the ABC, AMC principal Michael van Balen said he was ‘disappointed’ but also understood why the decision was made given TAFE Queensland’s proximity to the South Pacific.