14 September 2015: KAP Leader and Federal Member for Kennedy Bob Katter has today made a bid for at least part of the Defence ship building program to be re-located to Cairns in North Queensland, following the Government’s reported intention to grow Australia’s naval capacity.
Mr Katter has also thrown his support behind a Cairns based Consortium’s tender for the building of the Pacific Patrol Boats, saying it is the only option that makes sense to the future security of Australia.
“Successive governments have badly let down industry in Australia. Industry needs continuity and development of handed down technology and experience,” Mr Katter said.
“The NQEA in Cairns were one of the largest patrol ship builders in the Southern Hemisphere and to have seen all of that talent vanish is a national tragedy.
“There’s got to be a responsibility on the Government to provide a constant stream of ship building.
“Of course there should be 12 submarines and there should also be 60-100 vessels between a patrol boat and a frigate in size that can be utilised to launch drones or cruise missiles.
“We do not have enough money to have a Navy and a Coastguard and it is the height of wastage that we have eight separate vessels in Cairns doing the same job as one Coastguard vessel does in the United States.
“To have one patrolling fishing, one patrolling the Great Barrier Reef, one patrolling customs, one being police, another one doing rescue, is just ridiculous.
“We do not have enough money for a Coastguard and a Navy, so the boats must be built to perform in both roles if required, they must be between a patrol boat and a frigate, with missile or drone capacity.
“These weapons are defensive, it must be emphasised, not offensive. They do not offend our neighbours, but they do tell anyone that we can protect ourselves and provide a real defence perimeter.
“They would give us the ability to look after and protect our Barrier Reef and its waters, to protect our land mass from intrusions of people smuggling and of drug smuggling.
“We need to build these resources and they should be based in Cairns. Clearly the technology and experienced boat builders are still there in Cairns, we need to harness them before they dissipate.
“Cairns also has arguably one of the best deep water ports in Australia at King Point, which is 15 or 20 minutes by motor vehicle from Cairns CBD. It can clearly become the naval centre for Australia.
“To have any of this based in a Southern Port is utterly ridiculous. After all, we’re not under threat from Penguins in Antarctica,” Mr Katter said.