The Chamber of Commerce and Industry WA (CCI) has today welcomed the Commonwealth Government’s powerful vote of confidence in Western Australia’s superior defence capabilities.

This follows the Government confirming German designer, Lürssen as the prime for the $4 billion offshore patrol vessel (OPV) program contract, with 10 of the 12 vessels to be built by Austal and Civmec at Henderson from 2020.

CCI Chief Executive Officer Deidre Willmott said WA’s defence industry boasts around 180 leading, innovative companies, which excel in all areas of construction, including design, build, maintenance, upgrades, and exports.

“Today’s announcement is welcome recognition from the Government that WA is a national defence leader that is primed to take on future defence opportunities,” Ms Willmott said.

“WA has the capability to make a substantial contribution to the national shipbuilding effort through our superior facilities at Henderson which is strategically located with direct access to the Indian Ocean and HMAS Stirling – the Royal Australian Navy’s largest base.

“Our skilled workforce is also ready to take on all aspects of the OPV contract, from the design and build to future maintenance and sustainment.”

CCI has played a key role in leading WA’s defence advocacy by founding the WA Defence Industry Council – an initiative to bring together WA’s defence industry to work with Federal and State Governments to promote WA’s elite defence capabilities and competitive advantages.

“The Council’s collective advocacy has already led to WA’s Henderson being named one of Australia’s two shipbuilding hubs, and helped to secure an extra $100 million into WA’s defence infrastructure at HMAS Stirling and the Henderson strip,” Ms Willmott said.

“To further establish WA as a national defence leader, CCI is committed to ensuring WA businesses have access to all supply chain opportunities as the Government continues to roll out its major defence contracts, including the $35 billion Future Frigates program.

“CCI believes the transfer of intellectual property for the design, build, and maintenance of the Future Frigates must be mandated.

“This is the only way to ensure Australia’s future sovereign naval shipbuilding design and maintenance capability meets the unique requirements of our Navy, while driving export revenue, economic growth, and securing more long-term Australian jobs than the Future Frigate program could hope to alone.

“CCI and the WA business community look forward to continuing to work with the Commonwealth Government and the WA State Government, through Defence West, to further promote WA’s world-class defence capabilities and secure vital defence contracts.”