Doorstop Monday 18 April 2016
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I’ve called you to this press conference to discuss the good news for South Australia and also for Henderson around the OPVs, the offshore patrol vessels and the future frigates program. Today I’m very pleased to be able to join with the Minister for Defence and the Prime Minister in the announcement around our continuous naval shipbuilding project , this is very god news for the workers at Osborne and the ASC, it means that when the air warfare destroyers finish over the next couple of years the offshore patrol vessels will start in South Australia when the future frigates are ready to begin, that project will move to Henderson in Western Australia, and then the future frigates will take up where the OBVs left off. That means there will be continuous jobs for the workers at Osborne in my state right through, really probably until several generations because, of course there will be submarines work following the future frigates, so we have 35 billion dollars for the future frigates program, at least two thousand workers. The offshore patrol vessels is worth between three and four billon that’s about 400 jobs and there will be decisions and announcements made about submarines at the appropriate time down the track but that project is worth over $50 billion so this is a day of great news for South Australia, a great joy for our state, we are doing it tough there in lots of respects as our economy transitions from an old economy to a newer economy. These massive investments in our continuous naval shipbuilding will go a long way to securing the future of South Australian jobs and for the young people and current workers at Osborne.
JOURNALIST: Does this ease any election nerves you may have had, now that you have something to promise at all?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: This is will be my tenth election since I started running at the age of 21 against John Bannon in 1989, I take every election very seriously, of course I do and I’d be mad not to do so, but there’s no point in being nervous, one has a job to do and one gets on and does it.
JOURNALIST: But can you tell us why the announcement is made today, particularly, you know, with bad polls given the disturbance around the Senate, is there a particular reason it’s been announced today?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think you’ll find that it’s no particularly secretive reason, but for contractual reasons, I think the Minister for Defence wanted to get on with the job of negotiating with the successful bidder for the pacific patrol boats because that project can begin soon and and in order to be able to meet the necessary contractual arrangements the decision needs to be announced sooner rather than later.
JOURNALIST: Minister, will this be enough to actually bridge to social valley of death for those ASC workers?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well it will because the air warfare destroyer project is continuing, obviously there are air warfare destroyers still to be delivered, and then the offshore patrol vessels will take off where the AWDs finish and then the future frigates will take off where the OPVs then move to Henderson so, of course they’re always vagaries in the workforce in large projects, they go up a little bit and they go down a little bit but the valley of death was left to us by the Labor Party has now been seriously mitigated, there will be jobs at Osborne into the future, there will be no point where there will be no jobs at Osborne and no ship building and of course there may well be other announcements that we’ll make over the coming weeks and months that we’ll only confirm that the valley of death can be avoided.
JOURNALIST: There’s 1300 ASC workers, will any of them be out of a job?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, I can’t speak for the ASC, obviously people come in and out of jobs depending on the circumstances and time as I think the last couple of weeks ago there was an announcement of 100 job losses at the ASC which turned out to be 52, I think, rather than 100 so I don’t manage the ASC but we were left by the Labor Party a valley of death and no announcements about any shipbuilding in Australia, we’ve now got 21 pacific patrol boats, we have 12 offshore patrol vessels, 9 future frigates and 12 submarines so I think it’s fair to say that we have delivered in spades for the naval shipbuilding industry in Australia and that means jobs and growth for South Australia.
JOURNALIST: Is there any guarantee of content, Nick Xenophon says that any one of these companies could decide to bring in a few bits that sort of get bolted together in Adelaide, is there a way to guarantee local content.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, that’s not right, of course, and Senator Xenophon once again has got his facts wrong and he must be surprised and disappointed that he can’t go out and attack the government about this decision because, of course, this is what he was calling for, I keep delivering, and he keeps trying to move the goal posts. The truth is that there is steel in Australia that can be used for things like the future frigates, the air warfare destroyers, the offshore patrol vessels where local steel can be used it is being used in the shipbuilding program we have now and will be used in the future program where that kind of steel is not made in Australia then either a provider of steel needs to start making it in Australia or it will come from overseas and that’s just a practical consideration.
JOURNALIST: Minister, you’ve mentioned the submarines there, should the federal Government announce where they believe submarines should be built prior to entering into the caretaker period.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, today’s the day to talk about surface ships, we’ll be talking about submarines into the future but one thing I could perhaps add to your questions Tory is that in terms of Arrium, for example, at Whyalla, this is really good news for the Whyalla workers because, regardless of the fact that Arrium doesn’t make the kind of steel that is used for submarines, it does make construction steel, it makes construction steel that will need to be used at Osborne for re-fitting Osborne before the OPVs, before the future frigates and potentially for the submarines down the track, so therefor this is good news for Arrium in spite of the fact that it doesn’t make the kind of steel that you necessarily use in every ship, it makes construction steel and construction steel will be needed in the re-fitting of Osborne.
JOURNALIST: Will there be an announcement about submarines before the election?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I think I’ve answered that question
JOURNALIST: Can I ask why the House isn’t sitting on Wednesday, is the Government, as Labor is accusing you, afraid of question time and answering question time?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, as you can see from today that is obviously not the case, well, because we’ve passed the Australian Building Construction Bill, twice, and we passed the Registered Organisations Commission Bill three times, so the House of Representatives doesn’t need to sit and consider passing two bills that we’ve already passed, in one case twice, and in the other case three times. It’s the Senate that hasn’t passed the ABCC and the ROC so there for the Senate will sit and consider those bills, and consider, of course, the Road Safety Remuneration Tribunal Abolition Bill, which is being debated in the House of Representatives right now.
JOURNALIST: Do you think that … infrastructure bill was built that we could build all twelve OPVs in South Australia
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Ah, well the OPVs will start in South Australia, but the future frigates are expected to start in 2020, so we’ll build as many offshore patrol vessels that wean fit in between that time and 2020 but we wouldn’t want the OPVs to continue at Osborne and keep the future frigates from being constructed
JOURNALIST: Don’t you want everything in South Australia?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Well, Tory one project is worth $35 billion and one project is worth $3 billion dollars so it would be very much that old expression of cutting off your nose to spite your face to say no we want the Offshore Patrol Vessels, all twelve of them and that would then stop you winning a $35 billion contract, that would not be smart so, we’ve got the best of both worlds, we’ve won the best of both worlds with this announcement. We get the offshore patrol vessels from now and 2020, as many as can be built in that time and we get the future frigates, one is worth $3 billion plus, one is worth $35 billion dollars plus so South Australia is the big winner from this announcement today