Remarks at Agreement Signing

25 Feb 2019 Transcipt


Naval Group and ASC Framework Agreement announcement remarks

25 February 2019

SUBJECTS: Naval Group and ASC; ship building program in Australia

CHRISTOPHER PYNE: Thank you very much it’s a great pleasure to be here with John Davis the CEO of Naval Group, and the Chairman Jean-Michel Bilig and it’s time he went home and saw his family I think. And Stuart Wylie the Head of the ASC and other distinguished guests. It’s great to be here to mark yet another really important occasion in the story of Naval Group and submarine building here in Australia.

The Framework Agreement that’s being signed today ensures that the ASC and Naval Group will work together as partners to create the 12 submarines here at Osborne, and of course the life of type extension for the Collins Class and the continuing sustainment and maintenance of the Collins Class. Because decisions haven’t be made over a long period of time, there was the danger that ASC and Naval Group would see each other as competitors in the same submarine yard and not work together – if you like fight over the last chip on the beach. But fortunately the framework agreement and the decisions that have been made in the last two and a half years means that ASC and Naval Group see each other as collaborators who can work together to create what is one of the largest projects in Australian history and certainly the largest submarine program in the world right now.

So the Framework Agreement will cover issues like training, safety, maintenance, the work- the use together of the different capabilities in the submarine yard. And it’s worth reflecting how far we’ve come in the last two and half years. In December 2016 Malcolm Turnbull, and Jean-Yvres Le Drian and myself founded Naval Group Australia in this building which was basically empty. And now today, two and a half years later, this building is filling up with people – not least of which the two floors here for Naval Group. It’s a thriving hub of activity. The Naval Shipbuilding College was only a thought two and a half years ago. It’s now a up and running, established at Osborne, has undergraduates that have been hired and are going through the University system and the TAFE system because that’s the way it’s been established as a spoke-and-hub skills development organisation that’s well and truly underway. Agreements like these have been- are being signed and have already been signed before to collaborate between the Naval Group and other companies.

At least 300 Australian corporations have been identified as potentially being able to be part of the supply chain here for Naval Group. And Naval Group is becoming very much a part of the society in which it will be operating. Two and a half years ago one of the things as everyone will remember at Naval Group we talked about was that Naval Group needed to be part of the fabric of the Australian community. And it’s great to see that Naval Group has been doing that as a sponsor of the Adelaide Crows women’s team, of course I meant Adelaide Crows and [inaudible], that particularly makes me happy, and all the other things that Naval Group is doing as part of being in this community. It means that people will see Naval Group as very much building, sustaining our society, jobs, the economy here in South Australia. Last December we turned the first sod on the submarine yard at Osborne North and the design of that is well and truly underway, and very soon we’ll sign the design contract with Naval Group– between Naval Group and the Australian Government and the strategic partnering agreement that was signed a few weeks ago when Florence Parly was in Canberra, just showing that there is tremendous continuation and progress being made in this particular program.

It’s on budget and it’s on time. It certainly has it’s detractors, most of whom don’t know anything about submarine building, the lethality of submarines, what their use will be for- in the Australian Navy down the track, how to create a project from scratch like this one. But there’ll always be detractors when you have big projects. When you dream big dreams there are always people who want to knock them down. But as you can prove today- as we’re proving today Naval Group, the ASC is getting on with the job. And it’s great news for ASC. A few years ago, apart from the sustainment and maintenance of the Collins Class submarine we weren’t talking about building 12 submarines at Osborne. We were talking about buying them off the shelf from France or Germany or Japan. Well fortunately that decision wasn’t made. The right decision was made, and that’s given ASC such an amazing lifeline to continue to be a great Australian and South Australian corporation employing thousands of South Australians in various different modes at Osborne and in Henderson.

So, thank you very much for the opportunity to mark the occasion and congratulations to ASC and Naval Group on the signing of the Framework Agreement today. Thank you.