The Morrison-Joyce Government’s mismanagement of major Defence projects will see delays of up to two years in the delivery of the first three of Australia’s nine new Hunter Class frigates.
In evidence to a Joint Committee of Public Accounts and Audit hearing today, senior Department of Defence officials revealed for the first time that an 18-month delay in the start of construction of the first of the new warships would translate into a two-year delay in delivery of the vessel to the Navy.
Construction of the first frigate was meant to start in late 2022.
But the Morrison-Joyce Government quietly decided earlier this year to delay the start of construction by 18 months following cost blowouts and design and capability issues with the $44.1 billion project.
Defence officials told the JCPAA that the first frigate was originally scheduled to be delivered to the Navy in late 2029 but the delivery date had now been pushed back to December 2031.
Officials said delivery of the second and third of the Hunter Class frigates would also be delayed as a result of the schedule blowouts in the project.
The Hunter Class frigates program is one of Australia’s most important naval shipbuilding projects, second only to the Future Submarine project in cost and strategic significance, so it is deeply concerning that the delays and blowouts are getting worse under this Government.
It is also unacceptable that the Minister for Defence Peter Dutton has not been upfront with the Australian public about the extent of these delays and what action the Government is taking to get this critical project back on track.
The latest delays on the Hunter Class frigate project mean the Liberal Government is now presiding over 33 major Defence capability acquisition projects which are running cumulatively 70 years behind schedule.
This mismanagement is compromising Australia’s defence and means Australian Defence Force personnel are not getting the equipment they need when they need it to do their job of protecting Australia’s national security.