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Media release

Build subs onshore or lose welding skills
If Australian submarines are not built in Australia, the nation will lose the capability to repair them.
That’s the grim warning from Welding Technology Institute of Australia CEO Geoff Crittenden.
He said Australian Defence Force Air Chief Marshall Mark Binskin’s comment that two thirds of the economic
benefits of the submarine program were in “sustaining” the fleet was right.
But, if submarines were not fabricated in Australia, welders and engineers with the skills to repair them would not
be available here.
“It’s naïve to think we can build the subs overseas and do repairs and maintenance here. If the fabrication contract
goes overseas, we’ll never have the skills to build warships in this country ever again,” Mr Crittenden said.
“Submarine maintenance requires highly skilled welders and engineers. We currently have people with the ability to
do the task but, without fabrication projects onshore, we won’t retain those people. Australian welders capable of
the job will be working overseas or stacking supermarket shelves.
“Unless the fabrication is conducted in Australia, repairs and maintenance will be done by welders and engineers
flown in from overseas by the prime contractor. It’s typical of the disregard successive Federal Governments have
had for Australian manufacturing.”
Mr Crittenden said the Australian manufacturing industry was being “savaged by project owners and managers who
outsource to cheap overseas fabricators that don’t manufacture to Australian standards. Cheap overseas
manufacturing is not of the same quality as projects built in Australia”.
Mr Crittenden cited a significant project, which he declined to name, for which key modules were constructed
overseas. However, an Australian welding company had to repair defects before the modules could be put into
service because they did not meet the nation’s safety standards. He said major structural components had been spot
welded, filled with silicon filler and painted over.
“The project owner would not have had to bear that additional expense if the modules were built here. Australia
needs to support skill development and retention to stem our rising unemployment levels. Sending key projects that
need skilled labour offshore is short sighted. Use it or lose it,” Mr Crittenden warned.
FOR FURTHER INFORMATION, PLEASE CONTACT:
Geoff Crittenden, CEO, Welding Technology Institute of Australia, ph 0439 944 033, email g.crittenden@wtia.com.au
Released by: Kate Tilley, WTIA Communications Consultant, ph (07) 3831 7500 or 0418 741606, email
ktj@ktjournalism.com
Release date: February 23, 2015
About WTIA
The Welding Technology Institute of Australia (WTIA) is a national non-profit, membership-based body representing
the Australian welding industry’s interests. It has 300 member companies and 1,200 individual members. WTIA
facilitates technology transfers and research & development; certifies personnel; conducts education and training;
and provides technical services to members.