Doorstop - Adelaide
Naval Group and ASC framework agreement doorstop
25 February 2019
SUBJECTS: Naval Group and ASC; ship building program in Australia; Georgina Downer; Jim Bonner; female candidates
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: So thank you for coming and we’re open to questions.
QUESTION: Okay. Is this essentially– because there was concern about some poaching by Naval Group of ASC staff?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: That’s a good way to put it actually Tory because the problem is we’ve had years and years of not building our submarine/ship-building workforce because we’re anticipating that that would be closing down because Labor were in power for six years, didn’t commission one ship and if you didn’t commission a ship, the workforce started to drift away; people were looking for other options – they got to obviously earn an income and they’ve settled elsewhere. So when you announce such a big, new shipping and submarine project, obviously you have to attract people back to the workforce but there’s only a finite number of people that are there right now. So we’ve been talking – John Davis and Stuart Wiley and BAE Systems who are doing the Hunter-class of course and Lurssen who are doing the offshore patrol vessels, about how to make sure that everyone’s collaborating rather than competing for the last chip on the beach; we want to grow the number of chips rather than just fight over the last one.
So today, marks cooperation between ASC and Naval Group rather than competing with each other; trying to grow the number of skilled people in the workforce; that also includes the Naval Ship Building College and the skill tsar that I appointed last year, Stephen Hayes who’s been working with everyone. But from a commercial point of view, ASC and Naval Group have recognised and do better together with a framework agreement that they could do separately and also, you don’t want them competing for price and we don’t want the workforce pushing up the cost of the project because they know that they’re – it’s a buyer’s market so it’s been important to bring this agreement about. It’s my way of saying: yes, cooperation means don’t they don’t poach each other’s staff.
QUESTION: Excellent. So you’ll be able to just kind of go: hey guys, we need a whole bunch of painters or engineers or whatever, can we have 20 of your guys for this time and those guys will put on a different t-shirt or lanyard or whatever and then change back again when they’re done?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: That’s exactly right. Did you want to comment on that John? Tory seems to be looking at you.
JOHN DAVIS: Absolutely. We’re trying to get flexibility in the workforce where we can use the workforce to best meet demands between the two programs and having that flexibility provides both programs; the most efficient and effective means to execute them.
QUESTION: So if ASC is training Naval Group apprentices with the- until the shipyard is built, Naval Group will be adopting ASC processes, why didn’t ASC just get used for the ship build in the first place?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Because they haven't built or designed the submarine for over 15 years and therefore, those capabilities, those skilled work designers and so on they just didn't exist at the ASC anymore. ASC has been doing sustainment and maintenance for all that time on the Collins-class submarines – so that's a different skill set. Of course, they have a different workforce doing the air warfare destroyers and they didn't have the capability to bid to build a new submarine for the needs of the Navy and that's why Naval Group was part of the competitive evaluation program and won that successfully because they have those skills. They have an ongoing submarine building program which I wish we'd had here but Labor of course, didn't commit to that.
QUESTION: And you won’t do anything similar to – with the BAE and the future frigates where ASC kind of gets subsumed by Naval Group? Nothing changes in terms of its structure?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: No, no. Because they're different workforces and different skills. So ASC has obviously has very substantial skills in sustainment and maintenance of the Collins-class and a lot of work was done over a long period of time to get to that point; we're now at it. It's now a sovereign capability for Australia and of course we want to do a life of type extension on the Collins-class to ensure that there's no capability gap which we announced over two years ago, although if you’ve read some of the recent commentary - they've obviously all forgotten that; that's not actually a new thing, that's an over two-year announcement.
So that skilled workforce needs to keep doing the things that they're doing; the air - the new frigates, the Hunter-class frigates are a different project altogether and they're not exactly the same skills - you can't just go straight across to them and we don't need - we want to keep ASC as a sustainer and maintainer. We’ve made it very clear to the Naval Group right from the beginning that they weren’t winning the project for sustainment and maintenance of the Attack-class; they’ll win the project to design and build the Attack-class and that we wanted to keep that sovereign capability in submarine sustainment and maintenance because it is a sovereign capability and, why would you give it away.
QUESTION: Now, I just want to ask about Georgina Downer. I’ve got no other questions on this.
QUESTION: Do you think it was appropriate for Georgina Downer to hand over the novelty check with her face on it to the Yankallila Bowling Club?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I haven't followed that story.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I can’t remember it. No. It sounds like a very small thing to me. And I'm sure some people will see it as very significant - I haven’t followed that story.
QUESTION: Did you follow the story about Jim Bonner on the Facebook ad for Georgina Downer talking about Bill Shorten’s franking credits policy?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I saw Jim Bonner on Instagram, which I'm an avid user of Instagram, and I like Jim very much and I'm sure whatever he did was excellent.
QUESTION: Thanks Minister, that was awesome.
QUESTION: Will you be contesting the next election?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: I’ve answered this question a thousand times I’m not answering it again.
QUESTION: I got one more. Why didn’t the Liberals pick a female candidate in Stirling?
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: The choice of candidates is a matter for the grassroots membership. We are a healthy democracy and I'm not going to comment on the choices other states in other seats make of their candidates. We have chosen a lot of women candidates in the last few months; two for the two seats in the Northern Territory; a woman leads our Senate ticket in South Australia, Western Australia Victoria and I think New South Wales. We have women candidates chosen for all of our Senate tickets around the country and we've chosen a welter of women across about 17 winnable seats in the last few months. So I think we are well and truly addressing the issue of needing - of having more women representation – female representation in the House of Representatives and the Senate.
CHRISTOPHER PYNE: All happy?
QUESTION: Yeah I just had an email to ask you again about will you contest the election but we’ll just forget that.