Perth-based shipbuilder Austal has confirmed it would be interested in buying government-owned Adelaide defence firm ASC.

Austal designs and builds commercial and defence ships, and its clients include the US Navy.

The shipbuilder’s chief executive, Andrew Bellamy, said Austal would be interested in acquiring ASC if the terms were right.

The Federal Government has said it has no plans to privatise ASC.

South Australian Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said it was more important how much defence work happened in Adelaide than the ownership of ASC.

“The ownership structures down at the shipyard are not the key issue, what is the key issue is that the ships and the work all happen here,” he said, in reference to current uncertainty about construction contracts for new submarines for Australia’s Navy.

Mr Hamilton-Smith said Austal had proved Australia was capable of delivering significant shipbuilding projects at competitive prices.

“[It] has demonstrated that Australia can produce ships cost-effectively, is getting on with the job, and the ASC here in Osborne in Adelaide can do exactly the same thing,” he said.

A defence industry briefing was held in Adelaide on Monday morning to highlight prospects for local firms to be involved in the future submarines project.

France, Germany and Japan are interested in building Australia’s next fleet.

The Defence Materiel Organisation said overseas bidders would be looking to partner with local companies.

Chris Burns from the industry association Defence Teaming Centre said he remained keen to see the Federal Government decide the future of the submarines project transparently.

“We want to know that the Government will consider the whole of project and the whole of nation benefits in building submarines in Australia,” he said.

ABC News