Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said Thursday (26 November) that the state government of Western Australia (WA) needs to begin work to update the Henderson Maritime Precinct, which is a hub of more than 100 companies servicing Defence’s need. Reynolds said while the area has been improved over the years, “there is still much work to do to bring it up to world standard, including higher levels of automation, efficiency and flexibility – scalable to meet the future demands of a burgeoning industry, larger and more complex naval vessels, and for our allies and partners”.
Since 2013, the coalition government has been the catalyst for growth in Western Australia for shipbuilding, enabled by comprehensive strategic planning and carefully funded investment plans. “The WA government must now deliver on its long discussed, but not yet actioned, master plan and start much needed upgrades at Henderson. With the inclusion of new build programs in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, the WA government needs to build the pathway for industry confidence and investment,” Reynolds said.
As announced in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, the government is investing around A$183 billion in shipbuilding which means there will be thousands of new Australian jobs, including in Western Australia, Reynolds added. “Through this investment we are delivering 70 naval vessels, which will be built and sustained in Australia. This is the largest regeneration of Australia’s Navy, with eight vessels already under construction. Since 2013, shipbuilding in Western Australia now includes the build of 45 naval vessels here in Henderson…For many years, I have championed at both state and federal government levels infrastructure investment at Henderson. This advocacy has seen A$1.5 billion in infrastructure at HMAS Stirling and Henderson committed, and the further investment of more than A$300 million for a new Maritime Underwater Range from the federal government.
The minister tied the upgrades to Australia’s new submarine program and said “to preserve our hard won submarine availability that is above international benchmarks, the government is carefully considering the needs of managing the entirety of our submarine program. A decision on Full Cycle Docking for the Collins Class submarine will be made in the national interest following a deliberative process of government consideration.
“The considerations include the need to preserve and grow our expert skills sets and knowledge in the Collins Class workforce, the best long term maintenance outcome, achieving steady growth across the enterprise, the continued need to deliver operational outcomes, and above all, what is in the national interest. Whatever the decision, it is not a binary outcome. The government’s consideration on submarine sustainment will be made in the context of the entirety of our national naval shipbuilding plan,” Reynolds said.