Greens Defence spokesperson, Senator Peter Whish-Wilson, welcomes the report by the Auditor General into Australia’s naval shipbuilding program and expresses his concern that the Department of Defence has already disregarded the recommendations to remove the extreme risks associated with enormous levels of spending.
Senator Whish-Wilson said, “The Auditor General has put it as bluntly as a senior bureaucrat possibly can. He is saying in effect that the Government’s naval shipbuilding program is a waste of money and that Defence seems to continually get away with levels of waste and risk that no other government agency would be allowed to carry.
“The Department of Defence simply doesn’t know how much building these submarines, frigates and patrol vessels is going to cost and when the money will be required to pay for them. The Auditor General is plainly begging the Defence Department to provide the Government with updates about what the shipbuilding package will cost, given there have been significant changes announced since the Defence White Paper was released.
“The language in the report about “extreme risks” is the sort of language that was provided in warnings to Government with the Pink Batts scheme which Ministers then ignored. But in this case, with significantly larger sums of money involved, the Defence Department questions whether the risks really exist and the Government itself is silent. It’s worth noting that similar risks were raised by the Auditor General at early stages of the construction of the Collins Class submarines.
“Additionally, the Auditor General has torn to shreds the argument that Defence spending equals jobs. He clearly states that there is no evidence that these sorts of programs provide jobs greater to what would be provided if the money was spent elsewhere, or if the equipment was built elsewhere and the savings invested into local communities.
“The Labor opposition and the Liberal government have bought lock, stock and two smoking frigates into selling the benefits of growing the military industrial complex in Australia when the cold, hard data to support this isn’t there.
“The Greens are left to join the economic rationalists in the Productivity Commission and the Auditor General’s Office, in standing alone to call out the insanity of this Government’s ‘industry policy’ dressed up as defence expenditure ,” he concluded.