23 September 2021
Independent Senator Rex Patrick today welcomed the decision of the Labor Opposition to support parliamentary scrutiny of the Australian Government’s submarine capability decisions.
“When I called for a Senate inquiry last week it was unclear what Labor’s response would be given their initial bipartisan support for the Prime Minister’s initiative," Senator Patrick said.
“While it may be that Labor’s internal divisions have prompted this initiative today, I’m pleased that they have come on board.”
“Labor has proposed that the Government’s submarines announcements should be examined by the Senate Economics References Committee as part of its existing inquiry into Australia’s sovereign naval shipbuilding capability.”
“As a member of that Committee I will welcome the opportunity to ask some very searching questions of the Department of Defence and other agencies to ensure that every aspect of the Prime Minister’s decisions is subject to full scrutiny."
"I want to really bore into the Government's decision making to see whether they have given proper consideration to the all issues - from nuclear safety and non-proliferation, to the impact on Australia's sovereign shipbuilding capabilities and our highly skilled workforce in South Australia, or whether this is another case of the Prime Minister being focused on an announcement with little regard for implementation."
“I look forward to discussion with the Labor Opposition on the precise terms of reference to ensure that every aspect is covered.”
“The current Senate naval shipbuilding inquiry is scheduled to report report to the Parliament by 2 December 2021. It will be necessary to extend the reporting date while also ensuring that a comprehensive report is delivered in the life of the current Parliament. A reporting date close to Australia Day 2022 would be appropriate.”
“Prime Minister Morrison’s announcements last week show many signs of inadequate consideration of the great challenges and difficulties involved in establishing a nuclear-powered submarine capability. His announcment said nothing about the operational and safety risks associated with managing and maintaining an ageing conventional submarine force over the nearly two decades before a nuclear-powered might make into the water.”
“A rigorous Senate inquiry is essential so that the Australian people know the realities before they go to the polls in 2022. Ongoing scrutiny in the next Parliament will be equally important.”