SENATOR THE HON PENNY WONG

Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Shadow Minister for Trade and Investment

Senator for South Australia

SENATOR STEPHEN CONROY

Deputy Leader of the Opposition in the Senate

Shadow Minister for Defence

JOINT MEDIA RELEASE

25 November 2014

DEFENCE MINISTER’S OUTRAGEOUS ATTACK ON ASC DEMANDS A COMPETITIVE TENDER FOR NEW SUBMARINES

TOPIC: FUTURE SUBMARINES

Defence Minister David Johnston has today put his personal bias against submarine builder ASC on full display, telling the Senate that he wouldn’t trust ASC to build a canoe.

This extraordinary attack by the Minister, who is meant to be managing Australia’s Future Submarine Project, is yet another reason why a competitive tender for this multi-billion dollar acquisition is essential.

“I wouldn’t trust them (ASC) to build a canoe.”

Defence Minister David Johnston, Senate Question Time, 25 November 2014

Australia’s submariners trust the skills and experience of ASC workers to keep them safe every single day.

It is disgraceful for the Defence Minister of Australia to undermine their work and display such an appalling lack of respect for their ability.

Last week, the Senate heard testimony that ASC is currently exceeding the ADF’s target for submarine availability by 18 per cent.

The Minister even highlighted the improvement at ASC in April this year when he said that availability was running at 90 per cent, a figure which we know has continued to improve.

Given the Minister’s attack on ASC in question time today, it is clear that no bid that involves the submarines being built in Australia would be approved by this Government.

It is time the Government put its personal biases to one side, and put in place a competitive tender for Australia’s Future Submarines, including a funded definition study, so that all Australians can be confident our new fleet will be chosen on merit and on what is best for our country.