The ASI has welcomed this week’s announcement by Federal Minister for Defence Industry, Christopher Pyne on the need to create local jobs and use locally-made steel to build the Government’s 12 new Offshore Patrol Vessels.

The Minister’s comments related to the request for tender being released to three European shipbuilders for the construction of the new fleet of corvette class patrol vessels as part of the Australian Government's multi-billion-dollar warship program.

ASI Chief Executive, Tony Dixon said it stands to reason that a program supported by so many taxpayer dollars be strategically sourced to maximise flow-on benefits for the Australian economy.

“Engaging local industry on projects like naval shipbuilding that occur over extended periods not only helps retain the nation’s industrial skills base and job creation, but also boosts confidence for local industry to continue to invest in advanced capability,” he said.

“The Australian steel industry has successfully supplied major naval ship builds in the recent past such as the ANZAC class frigates which have proven themselves in active duty across the world.

“As such, there is every reason to afford local industry reasonable scope to supply major Australian defence projects which have the potential to open up an array of opportunities.

“Beyond the vessels, there also needs to be the same consideration given to the supply of any supporting construction work associated with the ship builds. It is vital that the same principle on local industry and steel that applies to the vessels also applies to any associated infrastructure.”

Pyne’s announcement coincided with the Australian Government’s acceptance of new Commonwealth Procurement Rules requiring public works worth over $4 million to demonstrate meaningful engagement with local industry and specify these projects to Australian standards while recognising the economic value of the local supply chain.

It also comes within a week of the new Australian standard AS/NZS 5131 covering structural steelwork fabrication and erection being released supported by an active compliance scheme based on independent testing and certification.