E&OE - PROOF ONLY
LEON BYNER: Senator Wong, thanks for joining us. What is your take on the revelations from Senate Estimates yesterday that we have no minimum local build on our submarines?
SENATOR PENNY WONG, LEADER OF THE OPPOSITION IN THE SENATE: Well, it’s a sell-out of South Australians. It’s a sell-out of South Australians when it comes to jobs, it’s a sell-out of South Australians when it comes to what Christopher Pyne said before the last election.
I mean let’s remember, before the last election do you know what we were told? That 90 per cent of the submarine build would be here in Australia. Then after the election, Christopher Pyne said “no, 60 per cent”. Well what we learnt in Senate Estimates yesterday was that there is no minimum content, no minimum Australian content in the agreement we’ve signed with Naval Group. That’s an extraordinary proposition.
And what was even worse, it appeared when I asked officials were they even asked to try and get one into the agreement, I was told it wasn’t part of their negotiating remit – they weren’t even asked by Government to try and get.
BYNER: So the reaction from both Chris Pyne and the Premier Steve Marshall to this was yesterday on the TV news “oh, but there’ll be plenty of jobs”. Well, from where?
WONG: Well, I think it’s a “trust us” routine from a Liberal Party that, let’s remember, it was only South Australians campaigning, and certainly you were part of that Leon and your listeners, that made sure that the Abbott Government didn’t send this build to Japan. We ran a campaign across the community, in the Parliament and that decision didn’t proceed and we got an Australian build.
But really Steve Marshall ought to be standing up for South Australia here. I mean, he seems to be more focused on protecting his relationship with the Federal Government. He should be protecting South Australian jobs.
BYNER: What about the news that there is a possibility that some of the other work will go to Western Australia?
WONG: The Government hasn’t been upfront about that either.
I think the problem here is we’ve got Chris Pyne before the last election and after the last election spinning this up, telling people what he thinks they want to hear and then walking away from it. Whether it’s some of the sustainment work going to WA, or whether it’s how much will actually be built here in South Australia, the Government would do better to actually tell people the truth.
Authorised by Noah Carroll, ALP, Canberra.