Politics

McGowan wants more defence jobs for WA

State Opposition leader Mark McGowan has called for a new agency to be formed to help bring more defence contracts to WA.

His announcement comes after Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull announced French contractors would build the Royal Australian Navy’s new submarines, although they would be maintained in WA and built in South Australia.

Mr McGowan said the Barnett Government had failed to get a significant slice of the work for West Australians and the formation of an agency called Defence West would help in future.

“There is $90 billion worth of work going and Western Australia is going to get about $1 billion of that,” Mr McGowan said.

“We are only getting the crumbs from the table when it comes to ship building in Australia, despite the fact we have the most efficient and the best ship building and ship builders in the country.”

Mr McGowan also called for the appointment of a Minister for Defence Issues in the State Government.

Chamber of Commerce and Industry of WA chief executive officer Diedre Willmott said in a statement the new submarine contract would strengthen the relationship between WA and SA.

“Western Australia will also continue to have a major role in servicing and maintaining submarines and naval ships,” Ms Willmott said.

“WA industry will now work with the successful bidder and the Department of Defence to build a supply chain between Western Australia and South Australia, to ensure the national industry reaps the full benefit of Western Australia’s experience in heavy engineering, innovation and ship building.”

Opposition training and workforce develeopment spokesman Fran Logan said the facilities at Henderson, where the HMAS Stirling fleet is maintained, could not maintain the submarines.

“The dry dock that we have, paid for by West Australian residents, is not big enough,” Mr Logan said.

“We call on the Federal Government to spend up to $100 million to build the second stage of the dry dock here in Western Australia, made out of Australian steel.”