Wa Budget To Boost Defence And Shipbuilding Opportunities

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May 7th, 2019

WA Premier Mark McGowan, Education and Training Minister Sue Ellery and Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia have launched the South Metropolitan TAFE (SMT) Naval Base Campus in Henderson, to plan for the future of Western Australia’s growing shipbuilding and defence work industry.

The McGowan Labor government has invested $2.4 million in the new campus, which will deliver a multi-skilled workforce to meet the naval shipbuilding industry's requirements and boost defence work capabilities.

Consolidating heavy fabrication, marine fabrication, welding and composite apprenticeship training from the old Henderson and Rockingham campuses, SMT has designed the new facility with training in shipbuilding and defence work in mind.

The WA budget will include a range of initiatives to support the state's push to become a defence industry powerhouse, including:

  • New state-of-the-art TAFE shipbuilding training facility at Naval Base;
  • Anticipated growth in shipbuilding student numbers in WA; and
  • $3 million to continue Office of Defence West's work.

South Metropolitan TAFE has been working in partnership with defence for more than two decades, delivering a range of qualifications and courses throughout the state and nationally to all arms of the defence industry.

Premier McGowan said, "Extra funding for the Office of Defence West to secure more defence work contracts, the opening of the Naval Base Campus (TAFE facility), and the establishment of the Office of Defence Skilling are all vital steps in delivering the key strategies identified within the WA Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan."

In close proximity to relevant employers, industry and the Australian Marine Complex, the SMT Naval Base Campus will offer a mix of apprentice training and fee-for-service as well as post trade training.

"South Metropolitan TAFE Naval Base Campus is a state-of-the-art, all-round training facility that will deliver a skilled workforce to meet the naval shipbuilding industry's requirements both in WA and nationally well into the future," Premier McGowan added.

Minister Ellery reinforced the Premier's comments, saying, "The opening of South Metropolitan TAFE Naval Base Campus will increase the availability of trained and skilled shipbuilding workforce state-wide and nationally and also places WA at the forefront of defence industry training."

The extra funding will further enable the establishment of a Defence Advisory Forum, drawing on the expertise of representatives from Defence and the defence industry, to provide advice to the Premier and the Minister for Defence Issues.

The McGowan government will also commit a further $3 million for the Office of Defence West, as part of the 2019-20 state budget, to continue to support the federal Department of Defence to achieve its objectives, and work with local industry to deliver sovereign capability requirements.

Minister Papalia added, "Our proximity to operational areas, and being home to the country's largest Navy Base, means WA already plays a key role in Australia's strategic interests. We also have the greatest concentration of defence-related prime contractors and small to medium enterprises of any capital in Australia."

Housed within the Naval Base Campus is the WA Office of the Naval Shipbuilding College (NSC), which has its headquarters in Adelaide. The co-location of the NSC to WA, one of two major naval defence industry hubs in Australia, will enhance the partnership to meet the needs of shipbuilding and defence industries.

"The state budget $3 million funding boost for Defence West will help ensure the office continues to champion the capability, capacity and workers that service and contribute to the national endeavour and global industry," Minister Papalia added.

The McGowan government launched the Western Australian Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan – a first such plan developed by a WA government, which outlines a strategy to grow WA's defence industry and become a key sector in the WA economy.

A focus of the strategy has been to establish an Office of Defence Skilling within SMT Naval Base Campus. The purpose of the office is to develop a workforce development strategy covering priority projects across all six capability domains in the Defence Integrated Investment Program.

As part of the McGowan government's Plan for Jobs, the establishment of Defence West and commitment to appoint a Minister for Defence Issues to champion the West Australian defence industry have been fulfilled.

In the short time that Defence West has been operational, it has been productive in supporting the defence industry including launching the Western Australian Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan, hosting the inaugural Indo-Pacific Defence Conference in Western Australia and hosting and supporting industry at major conferences and exhibitions, including Pacific 2017 and Land Forces 2018.