Abbott launches $89 billion warship plan

PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has unveiled an $89 billion plan to ensure the nation's warships and submarines are built locally.

The naval shipbuilding package will include $39 billion to build new frigates and offshore patrol ships and $50 billion for the next-generation submarine fleet.

The package will create up to 2500 jobs and see an ongoing shipbuilding industry in South Australia.

Construction of offshore patrol vessels will start in 2018 and of frigates in 2020.

A new warship will launch every 18-24 months.

Mr Abbott said it was a historic day and a fundamental new beginning for shipbuilding in Australia.

He said it would effectively end the boom and bust cycle of shipbuilding.

"This is a message of hope to the people of this state and to the people of the nation," he said.

"This is a very good announcement for our national security, our economy and jobs."

The Australian Manufacturing Workers' Union welcomed the announcement but said it wanted to go over the finer details before expressing confidence in the policy.

Opposition Leader Bill Shorten said it was a political decision designed to save Mr Abbott's job.

But he shied away from questions when asked how many warships were built or commissioned when Labor was in government.

Engineers Australia vice-president Greg Walters said it was critical the government managed this investment wisely.

He said the government needed to engage with engineers from design through to completion of the project.

"Engineers are a crucial component of Australia's strong shipbuilding future and in ensuring our defence forces have the capability they need to serve and protect the nation well into the future," he said.

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