September 16 2004

More patrol boats for Austal?

If Australian Prime Minister John Howard's Coalition Goverment is reelected in the October 9 General Election, Austal Ships stands to benefit by orders for two more Armidale Class patrol boats to defend Australia's North West Shelf.

If the opposition Labor Party wins, Austal could do even better.

Australia's Department of Defense is currently acquiring 12 Armidale Class Patrol Boats, from Defence Maritime Services and its subcontractor, Austal Limited.

"If re-elected," pledged Howard, "the Coalition Government will enter into negotiations with these companies for the purchase of the two additional patrol boats."

"Assuming these negotiations are concluded on an acceptable basis," continued Howard, "the vessels will be constructed at the shipyard of Austal Limited in Henderson, Western Australia."

Opposition defense spokesman Kim Beazley said two new Armidale patrol boats were insufficient to supply security and surveillance for the North West Shelf region. Beazley said Labor would provide eight new ships, three of which would have helicopters on board.

Beazley called Howard's proposal "a poor man's imitation of the Labor Party's coastguard."

"Imitation is the highest form of flattery, but John Howard's announcement today pales into insignificance because eight new patrol vessels are required--not just the two that he announced," declared Beazley.

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