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Automotive Supplier Diversification Program

The Hon. A.L. McLACHLAN ( 14:59 :54 ): My question is directed to the Minister for Automotive Transformation. Within what time frame will the Automotive Supplier Diversification Program and the Automotive Workers in Transition Program be refocused to ensure manufacturing workers and component workers can take advantage of the shipbuilding industry?

The Hon. K.J. MAHER (Minister for Employment, Minister for Aboriginal Affairs and Reconciliation, Minister for Manufacturing and Innovation, Minister for Automotive Transformation, Minister for Science and Information Economy) ( 15:00 :20 ): I thank the honourable member for his question and his interest in the auto area. In particular, I also note his interest not just in automotive transformation but in recreation and sport in South Australia. I have it on good authority that sometime in the next month he makes, after nearly 30 years, his return to competitive full contact Saturday afternoon sport. I congratulate him on this very valiant step. He has shown how valiant he is in this chamber on many occasions, as has been noted by many.

He asked about the transition and refocus of some our programs for automotive transformation into servicing our defence sector. I don’t have a time frame on exactly when different aspects will happen. We are now starting discussions, both with the French submarine builder and with other companies, about what it is that they will need. We are not going to rush to make firm decisions without understanding what the exact needs are.

Certainly, even from the announcement of the future frigate program and the OPVs we have started discussions with companies in South Australia, for example, MG Engineering that has supplied the masts on the air warfare destroyers—very complicated advanced manufacturing processes for very tall masts that have exceptionally small tolerances and require exceptionally complicated electronics to be put in. They are already looking at what they need to do and what the opportunities might be as we further our involvement, particularly in naval shipbuilding and potentially other defence sectors.

We will, of course, talk to those industries and companies like MG Engineering that have had involvement in things like the air warfare destroyer project, or some of the companies like Levett Engineering in northern Adelaide that have had involvement in the F-35 joint strike fighter project in providing parts, and also some of the big multinational companies, like BAE and Saab, that are based in South Australia, about what the needs will be and what the needs are.

Certainly, we have officers from my area and the manufacturing part of DSD already looking at what some of the capabilities are in South Australia and what some of the future needs will be. I will be happy to inform the honourable member of any formal changes to guidelines when they occur to meet these future needs.

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