WA targets naval tech hub

Gareth McKnightSound Telegraph

Defence Minister Paul Papalia has highlighted the potential for a high-tech hub to be established in WA as a lifeline for the State’s naval industry, with Rockingham a possible location.

In a wide-ranging interview with the Telegraph last week, Mr Papalia said WA deserved the lion’s share of the yet-unallocated funds in the Federal Government’s $195 billion Integrated Investment Program.

The Warnbro MLA led a team to Canberra late last month and met Federal Member for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne and Federal Defence Minister Marise Payne.

Mr Papalia has been vocal over South Australia’s vast majority share of projects to build submarines and offshore patrol vessels, and offered three alternatives.

These included the OPVs being built between the two States, block-built in modules in both locations or WA constructing the super structures of the vessels. All three proposals were rejected.

While saying that he would continue to challenge the “diabolically unfair” share WA had received in the construction of vessels, Mr Papalia said the Integrated Investment Program offered the State a lifeline.

This $195 billion project is part of the Defence White Paper and will allocate funds over 10 years in smaller amounts.

This money will be focussed on enhancing the naval fleet’s equipment, technology and networks.

Mr Papalia said an innovation hub in WA could focus on special operations, naval mine counter measures or riverine craft for supporting amphibious operations.

“There are six capability streams in the Integrated Investment Program. We are going through them in great detail and very carefully to identify fields of endeavour where WA already has a competitive advantage,” he said.

“The funds are not allocated yet and there is flexibility in the program. We want to create a lot of opportunities for Minister Pyne to give more of a fair share to WA.

“We will make submissions to Mr Pyne on the proposals. I would hope that the Prime Minister will not be coming empty handed on his next visit to WA.”

Mr Papalia said a high-tech centre would potentially complement the City of Rockingham’s Technopole innovation hub concept, which the local government hopes to establish at the Murdoch University campus on Dixon Road.

“There is every opportunity and potential for Rockingham to be an appropriate site for something like this,” he said.

“Between HMAS Stirling and Henderson where all the industry is based - that is not a bad location.”

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