Xenophon slams navy procurement decision

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Love me tender: Nick Xenophon (C) with Defence Minister David Johnston and Elvis impersonator Mark Anthony in Adelaide.

Aussie shipbuilders excluded from billion dollar tender.

Senator Nick Xenophon is shaking all over about the Coalition Government’s decision to limit a tender process for a $1 billion naval supply ship to overseas shipbuilders.

The Independent Senator for South Australia teamed up with ‘Elvis’ (AKA Mark Anthony) to make his feelings clear to Defence Minister David Johnston, who was giving a speech to business leaders in the SA capital.

‘Elvis’, in full regalia and toting an acoustic guitar, joined Senator Xenophon to serenade the minister outside Adelaide’s Intercontinental Hotel with a stirring rendition of Love Me Tender.

Known for his media pranks, Senator Xenophon used the impromptu performance to launch his push for an urgent Senate Inquiry into the government’s decision to limit the tender to build the Royal Australian Navy vessel to South Korean and Spanish shipbuilders.

There is widespread concern that the decision could lead to the loss of thousands of jobs in the Australian defence industry, particularly given that the future frigate and submarine orders for the RAN are not due to start for several years.

“The decision to exclude Australian shipbuilders from the supply ship tender process is gobsmacking, and an urgent Senate inquiry, to be moved next week, should reveal the reasons behind the decision, and have it reversed,” Mr Xenophon told Neos Kosmos.

“This decision leaves many ‘suspicious minds’ among Australia’s defence industry and the message from ‘Elvis’ today is that we need ‘a little less conversation and a lot more action’ on the part of the government,” quipped the senator.

At least 3,000 direct jobs and thousands more downstream jobs are thought to be at stake over the supply ship decision, particularly in South Australia, Victoria and New South Wales.

Mark Anthony, a proud South Australian, is rated as one of the top Elvis impersonators in the world, and appeared free of charge in support of the campaign to change the government’s thinking over the procurement process.

source: Neos Kosmos

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