Your Ad Here

Saturday, January 30, 2010

NSW plan threatens SA's defence title

A NEW South Wales plan to establish a maritime facility hub is putting the state on a collision course with South Australia.

A Collins-class submarine. Picture: Department of Defence

In what has been interpreted in political circles as a declaration of war, NSW Premier Kristina Keneally has made an aggressive bid to secure a sizeable slice of an estimated $250 billion in defence spending over the next two decades.

The SA Government has claimed the title of Australia's "defence state" after winning billions of dollars of defence contracts over the past six years.

Only last week when Prime Minister Kevin Rudd opened the ASC shipyard, which will build the $8 billion Air Warfare Destroyer project, Premier Mike Rann boasted of SA already securing $44 billion of defence contracts.

The biggest of those is the $30 billion next-generation submarines.

Canberra-based defence expert Dr Andrew Davies said some of the fiercest defence bidding will be for lucrative maintenance contracts, or "through life support", which is generally double the initial contract price. While he believes the submarine through life support contract is likely to go to the builder, he says the maintenance contracts for surface vessels, such as the destroyer project, would be up for grabs.

"This is really a belated recognition from NSW that there are jobs and income to be had," he said.
Ms Keneally's pitch included detailing a strong history of supporting the navy and shipbuilding at numerous sites across NSW.

While SA is struggling with a skills crisis, she argued: "We have Australia's largest concentration of engineering professionals".

But Premier Mike Rann played down the impeding battle for defence dollars saying: "We would absolutely expect other states to win defence projects to support and complement SA's valuable and burgeoning defence industry." (source