My adjournment matter this evening is for the Minister for Industry, and it is in regard to the ongoing impact of the establishment of the Victorian Defence Procurement hub in Geelong. Geelong has over 300 businesses which supply products and services to domestic and international defence aerospace markets.
The state’s defence industry is valued at $1.5 billion annually, and the Labor government intends to capitalise on this dynamic and innovative industry sector by making it one of the six sectors it is targeting through the $200 million Future Industries Fund.
In my electorate of Western Victoria Region, $5 million was dedicated to the establishment of the Victorian Defence Procurement Office through the Regional Jobs and Infrastructure Fund. The office is intended to ensure that the skill and capability of Geelong manufacturers are marketed to the world’s largest defence manufacturers. It is intended to ensure the growth of the manufacturing industry, particularly in light of the forthcoming Ford plant closure, and it is to create more high skill, high wage jobs to replace those that will be lost.
The time to act is now. However, not all tiers of government have the same commitment to Victorian jobs in the defence technology sector, and this is starting to cost jobs, which leads to losses in human capital and industry capability. In fact BAE Systems shipyards has recently announced that a further 80 trade skills jobs will be lost as a result of a lack of workflow. Yet there are four outstanding projects that that shipyard could be well-placed to bid for, two of which are recommended in the RAND Corporation’s report, Australia’s Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise — Preparing for the 21st Century. The four projects are as follows: the SEA 5000 Future Frigate, and two replacement ships — SEA 1179 and 1180; federal funding for a fourth air warfare destroyer; specifying Australian industry content for the navy’s replenishment ships; and bringing forward the pacific patrol boat contract to early 2016.
The action I seek from the minister is that she provide me with information about how the federal government’s prevarication is impacting on the Geelong procurement office, and indeed its impact on the future of the shipyards.