Speculation of the Hunter Class Frigate Program moving offshore have been dismissed by BAE Systems Australia and South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.
The $45 billion program remains slated for construction in Osborne, South Australia, with Malinauskas stating he will hold the federal government to account over their commitment to contrast the frigates here.
Defence industry has been awaiting the program's fate since the April release of the Defence Strategic Review (DSR), which recommended a review of the Navy's surface combatant fleet to ensure it aligns with Australia's current strategic needs.
The review was submitted to the federal government in September, and its anticipated release early next year has raised concerns with the Defence Teaming Centre (DTC).
Libby Day, CEO of the DTC said in the current environment delaying the release of the Navy’s surface combatant fleet review until next year is simply not an option.
“The Defence Teaming Centre is urging the government to take action and confirm whether the rumours hold any truth,” Libby said.
“They need to start talking to us and be more transparent.
"Businesses are not going to invest in training, infrastructure, building their workforce if there is no certainty.
“BAE Systems Australia have previously said that the Hunter Class Frigate Program would create and sustain more than 5,000 jobs. If our Hunter Class Frigates are to be built offshore, we not only risk losing this highly skilled workforce in our state, but we are also putting our sovereign capability at risk.”
Australia is not the only country dealing with a highly skilled workforce shortage. The US and the UK are also facing the same issue, and it is well known that in the US they are behind on the fleet build and maintenance of the Virginia Class Submarines.
This has the DTC questioning; if the government is considering having the frigates built offshore have, they considered the capability of the UK to be able to complete the build within the time frame.
“Having the frigates built offshore not only goes against the DSR but increases the risk of reduced fleet commonality which reduces the workforce flexibility for crewing, maintenance and support,” Libby said. “We are hopeful that these rumors are false. If the government has made the decision to build these offshore this will stifle our sector, and the broader Australian economy.
“The flow-on effect is job losses in manufacturing, infrastructure and financial services, all essential sectors in supporting Defence and defence industry.”
Read what Craig Lockhart, Managing Director of maritime at BAE Systems Australia has to say about the rumours by clicking here and visiting The Advertiser.