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Sub contract elusive

POLITICAL forces could result in WA losing the lucrative Collins-class submarine refit contract to South Australia.

Builders of the Collins-class fleet are based in Adelaide and argue that the refit contract, estimated to be worth $100 million per vessel, should go to them, despite the fact the fleet is based off the WA coast at HMAS Stirling and next to a major ship-building precinct in Henderson.

And while the independent McIntosh-Prescott report to the Federal Defence Minister recommended WA as the most logical and efficient choice to service the submarines, it is feared political forces, such as the coming South Australian election, will sway the Howard Government’s decision.

WA Parliamentary Secretary to the Premier Mark McGowan said it was only natural the submarine fleet be serviced at Henderson, which is home to Australia’s biggest ship-lift, which soon will have the capacity to hoist three submarines at a time.

But he said it depended what issues the Federal Government chose to decide the contract on.

“If the Government decides the contract based on politics then SA will win it, but I hope they decide the contract based on the best outcome for the submarines and Defence Forces and award the contract to WA.”

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