The Tasmanian consortium bidding for a $600 million defence Patrol Boat project has upped the ante, as it lobbies the federal government for a fair go for the Tasmanian maritime industry.
“We don’t expect a handout, we just want the opportunity to prove ourselves,” Tasmania Maritime Network chair Richard Lowrie said.
The Pacific Patrol Boat Replacement Program is one of the key naval defence programs being considered, as well as replacement programs for new submarines, frigates and large off-shore patrol vessels.
Prime Minister Tony Abbott recently confirmed up to 2500 shipbuilding jobs in Adelaide would be safe for “all time” ahead of the expected program to build a fleet of navy ships.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews has also confirmed the government has committed to building Pacific patrols and offshore patrol vessels and acknowledged Tasmania’s tender when visiting the state last month.
“We welcome the PM’s announcements, supported by Minister Andrews, because it secures Australian jobs and skills into the future,” Mr Lowrie said.
“But don’t forget Tasmania and the future security of shipbuilding jobs here.
‘‘This project will consolidate 1500 current jobs and grow the workforce, including skilled workers and apprentices trained in Tasmania. The patrol boat program is ideal for Tasmania to showcase its high quality and skilled workforce. Tasmania has the proven capability; we just need the opportunity to demonstrate it.”
Mr Lowrie said the lobbying had escalated and involved meetings with all Tasmanian senators and House of Representative members.
“The state government has been very supportive of the TasPac proposal and is keen to rectify the lack of defence spending in the state. Meetings with Tasmania’s federal politicians from all sides are also well under way and there is a strong, reassuring show of unity emerging,” Mr Lowrie said.
“A delegation from TasPac visited Tasmania this month, including three representatives from TKMS Germany. They
toured the state, meeting with business partners and political leaders.
“The continual visits and close involvement by TasPac reinforces the belief they have in Tasmania’s ability to supply their requirements. The many business success stories they encounter demonstrate a great achievement and an even greater endorsement of the capability that Tasmanian ingenuity can provide”
The consortium consists of Tasmanian companies Incat and Haywards and the Australian Maritime College, supported by international companies ThyseenKrupp and UGL Engineering, who also work out of Australia.
Although a decision is expected in late 2016, the group hopes for an earlier announcement.