Comments on Building Submarines or Shipbuilding in Whyallla

The President of the Whyalla Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Mr Ron Hay said we should not push aside any ideas that are put forward to increase our ability to offer employment within our community or even our closest communities.

For those of us who remember the days of our shipbuilding, steelworks and contractor support and fabrication businesses, providing a good level of employment, it is understandable, that proposals of this nature, may come back across the table for consideration.

Mr Hay said, the important factors here are that ideas need to be explored and the total picture of the requirements to fulfil such projects, need to be carefully reviewed and the pros and cons analysed.

It may be at the end of an investigative process, either the total project may be viable or only specific parts of it. By that I mean, the infrastructure for a shipbuilding facility, may not be financially possible but if components could be built, under certain conditions, then this might be an appropriate way to go.

The best example of this said Mr Hay, was when his father, a shipwright, finished at the shipyard and upon its closure, went to work for a local and privately owned company, who made Tuna boats, which were made in a sectioned off area of land, down from the old fitting out wharf. These boats were built firstly upside down, with the keel and hull sections and then turned over to complete the upper sections.

So what I am indicating is that ideas and projects have to be broken down, into chunks that may provide a good economic model and quick wins for our community.

Mr Hay said, he understands completely the proposal being put forward, as it has been apparent from meetings that have been held between Chamber and Government representatives, that we need to look ‘outside the square’ nowadays and present opportunities and ideas, to state ministers in a way, that we can get engagement and financial support, to create sustainability of our employers, retain our skill base and ultimately bring families and individuals into our community.

As a key business group, the Chamber has previously stated, that we need to get facts and data for all proposals, so we can make informed decisions on the future of our community and I commend the council for at least thinking about this and showing a collective direction.

However, there are a great number of questions around this particular proposal, relating to infrastructure and capacity, which need to be carefully thought through and kept in perspective, so that there are no false hopes at the end of the day, said Mr Hay.

We are in very trying times and we should not dismiss anything, including any ideas that did not take off or have been brought up from a number of years ago for example. The overall climate in which it was looked at previously, may not have been supportive, but it may be a consideration in today’s world.



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