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D-Day on "biggest jobs decision since World War Two"

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The Weatherill Government has called on the Commonwealth to come clean about whether international firms vying for the lucrative Future Submarines contract were told to bid for only eight vessels instead of the promised 12, as submissions to the Competitive Evaluation Process close today.

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Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith dubbed the deadline “the most important day for jobs in this state for many years”.

“The three tenderers have put their papers in (and) the decisions subsequently made will determine what happens to 120,000 man-years of jobs,” he said.

“We need to know whether (the CEP) required eight submarines or 12 – now the submissions are in, the Government can tell us.”

Hamilton-Smith said if, as the Government believes, the lower number was specified – possibly with a further option for an additional four vessels – it “will be nothing more than a project, and we’ll be here again in a few years’ time”.

“This is the biggest jobs decision the nation has faced since World War Two,” he said.

He also reiterated demands the Coalition rule out an overseas or hybrid build and “swiftly advanced” a local build for Offshore Patrol Vessels.

“The valley of death is with us now – the Offshore Patrol Vessel build would provide jobs for workers coming off the Air Warfare Destroyer project and enable them to maintain their skills,” he said.

The State Government and Opposition find themselves singing from the same songbook on subs, with Liberal leader Steven Marshall today talking tough about his Federal colleagues’ commitment.

“The Federal Government needs to deliver what it promised in the lead up to the last election – 12 submarines built in Adelaide,” he said. 

“I constantly reinforce the importance of both the promise and the project  to South Australia’s ailing economy when meeting with my Federal colleagues.”

But the Defence Teaming Centre’s Chris Burns said the industry was concerned less about the number of submarines contracted for, and more about ensuring a “continuous build”.

“It’s for the Government to decide the quantum,” he said.

“We just want to make sure it’s a continuous build … (so) we start to develop our own in-house design capability.”

He said that would mean, on average, building a new submarine every two years or so, but shortening their lifecycle so that the first is taken out of service by the time the last is ready to launch.

Bids have been received from three countries, France, Germany and Japan.

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