Day of reckoning for new Defence Minister
New Defence Minister Kevin Andrews will need to work hard to mend the bruised relationship between the Abbott Government and workers at the Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), as he visits the shipyards for the first time since taking on the role.
The relationship was significantly damaged when the previous Defence Minister, David Johnston, attacked them saying;
“I wouldn't trust them (ASC) to build a canoe.”
Defence Minister David Johnston,
Senate Question Time,
25 November 2014
This extraordinary attack by the former Minister was a disgraceful outburst which undermined the skilled workers at ASC and displayed a great lack of respect for the important work done by ASC.
The Defence Minister also needs to take immediate steps to secure the future of Australia's strategically vital shipbuilding industry and its thousands of workers.
Kevin Andrews needs to pay attention to his South Australian Liberal colleagues, who are advocating for the Abbott Government to hold a competitive tender for Australia’s Future Submarine Project.
Reports of a last minute change to his schedule have resulted in a meeting between Mr Andrews and Martin Hamilton-Smith, the South Australian Minister for Defence Industries.
Mr Hamilton-Smith has also continually lobbied the Government to keep its promise to build 12 new submarines in South Australia.
This project is one of the largest Defence acquisitions the Commonwealth will ever make.
Expert after expert have told the Senate our shipyards are capable of building these submarines in Australia while providing value for money for taxpayers.
If he won’t listen to the experts, Kevin Andrews needs to heed the advice of his state Liberal colleagues and stand up to the Prime Minister, ensuring that there is a real tender for our submarines.