The Defence Teaming Centre (DTC) recently expressed ongoing concern over the delays in the decision-making process regarding Australia’s defence procurement, particularly in relation to the future structure of the surface fleet and the continuation of naval shipbuilding within the country. These delays pose a significant risk to both national defence capability and the economic stability of the industry, specifically in South Australia.

The uncertainty stemming from speculation about the future of the Hunter Class Frigate Program, following the Defence Strategic Review’s recommendation for an independent review, is creating an untenable situation. A report on this review, completed and submitted to the Government in September, remains undisclosed. The DTC urges the Federal Government to release the findings before year-end to return confidence in defence industry.

Libby Day, CEO of the DTC, stresses the urgency: “In the current strategic context, further delay in releasing the review’s findings is not viable. Transparent communication from the government is crucial now more than ever. Today’s article about the Hunter Class Frigates possibly being built in Scotland add more uncertainty and ambiguity, which can all be dealt with by releasing the review. They signal a potential economic crisis for South Australia given defence industry is the second largest employer and economic driver. Businesses need certainty to invest meaningfully in training, infrastructure, and workforce development.”

In South Australia over 14,000 people are directly employed in the defence sector, making us one of the largest employing states, and last year the Australian Defence Industry Account reported that defence industry contributed almost $1.2 billion to the South Australian economy, up by 11% on prior year.

This highlights how pivotal Australia’s defence industry is to the South Australian economy. Our members have estimated that the Hunter Class Frigate Program would foster and sustain over 5,000 direct jobs. Relocating such projects offshore will not only lead to a significant loss of skilled jobs but will also undermine our sovereign defence capabilities.

While highlighting these challenges, the DTC remains committed to collaborating with the government and industry partners. We propose an actionable framework, including:

  1. Release prior to Christmas of the surface combatant fleet review.
  2. Clear commitment timelines for defence procurement decisions.
  3. Strengthened policies to support domestic defence industry capability and workforce development.


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  1. I fear once again Political expediency has taken precedent over National Security, rather than make the hard call to cancel the Hunter project and upset the SA Labour Government as well as cop the flack from the opposition, which they handed out aggressively to the Morrison Gov after the Attack debacle, They have kicked the Can down the road again and again. The Hunter Class May have been an excellent design when it was first submitted but constant tinkering has turned it into unachievable ( within original concepts ) money pit, If Albanese is serious about Australian Sovereignty and Australian Jobs he needs to stop dithering and make hard calls. Cancel the Hunter, forget about the Virginia’s, tell his Admirals to pull their heads in and start doing what’s best for Australian Industry. If you’ve made a mistake, admit it, cop the flak and fix it. Stop playing Politics with at the expense of Australia, start doing your job .

    • Michael I also agree. But in fact I think you are being too kind. I think the Type 26 projecct itself has been in trouble from the start in UK, and the reasons for Hunter running late and over cost are merely excuses to hide systemic problems with the parent design.
      Listen to this 2021 podcast on problems with the Canadian Type 26 variant (CSC). It is also running late, over budget and over weight in design, despite construction not being due to start till 2024, same as Hunter. Why is it also overweight? We are told the Hunter problem stems from the large CEAFAR radar, which is absent from the Canadian ship.

      The independent commentator on the CGAI podcast urges cancelling the CSC and switching to a new frigate tender for an existing design only. Listen to the BAE representative trot out the same reasons not to do that – delay, waste, prices falling with the latter ships – as though reading from the same PR advice they are using here.

      Looks like Australian and Canadian naval officers fell for the same spin. We are all paying to recapitalise the UK shipbuilding industry.

      • Thanks for the additional information Scott. I’ll have a closer look at the Canadian program. I also have misgivings about the Type 26 program and the continuing silence of BAE Systems is a bit of a worry.

      • Is it though Kym ? Believe it was podcast 16 in September when I asked you whether APDR could shed any light on Lockheed Martin’s declaration at Avalon in March 2023 that it would complete RAAF’s order for 72 F35s by delivering the final 12 aircraft before the end of 2023. The only reported arrival of LM aircraft I’ve seen so far in 2023 is 3 UH-60M Blackhawks for Army. Would greatly appreciate your follow up on this matter with less than 6 weeks of 2023 remaining, cheers.

          • Thanks Kym as I can smell a direct link between the borderline air defence monopoly Lockheed Martin has enjoyed since the AUKUS announcement and Australian mainstream media’s avoidance of LM’s abject failure to deliver on its inflated Avalon ’23 fanfare & promised end to the RAAF F35 circus.

  2. agree totally. Why the delay in releasing the surface fleet review? If we are just going to give ALL our defence procurement to the USA, then say so. At least then we might have something built and in service this century. OR prioritize local defence manufacturing as a strategic imperative. Either way, just get on with it!

  3. Kym
    I live in Adelaide and I do not want to see more shipbulding job losses after the Attack cancellation. Yet I would still say that the job loss argument for Adelaide from cancelling Hunter is misleading. The Attack and OPV jobs are already gone. Hunter has still not really started construction, only test modules. Employment now is about 1400, not 5000. The question is how quickly an alternative (AWD Block II?) can start versus how quickly Hunter employment will build up at its current rate of progress? Is the Hunter design complete or not?

    From the recent parliamentry audit committee hearing (where Julian Hill asked some excellent questions) the BAE CEO said they were aiming for (not yet achieved) 54% up to 58% local content in the build. Virtually all the design work has been in UK.

    If we proceed with Hunter the problems aren’t only in construction. We will be stuck with a new ship propulsion design that has nothing in common with the rest of the fleet. It will be a maintenance liability for life.

  4. I’m honestly at a loss to fathom the reasoning of this Government (and the Previous one come to think of it ) Never has Australian Defence been in such a shambles. The Army is without an adequate APC, has no effective rotary wing capability and for some reason that defies logic are committed to buying Armour that is to heavy for Australian infrastructure and uses a fuel incompatible to any other Military Vehicles and a Helicopter gunship that is virtually obsolete. Locked into a front line fighter that has inadequate range for Australian purposes and the Icing on the cake, a Naval Ship Building Policy in total disarray with every project either running late,over budget or both and adopting a capability that for Decades has been anathema. The next Defence White Paper or Review ( None of which, ironically , has ever been fully implemented) needs to address how best to Defend Australia from its own Department of Defence.

    • Sadly, you are right on all your comments. I hope that at some point the Gov of the day wakes up. Maybe, put a 4 year block on ex ministers next (overseas company) jobs. Maybe stop sprukeing doom and gloom, and actually believe the crap you are sending to the public. If we are in the worst strategic circumstance since WW2, how about we take that seriously? If it is not really the case then, great. But also maybe hedge our bets, and have an actual deterrence capability. I personally happy to spend an extra 0.5% on my tax, if it is put to credible defence.
      But not if it is to set up ex ministers to get jobs for over sea’s company’s.


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