Coalition appoints Sophie Mirabella to board of government-owned shipbuilding firm

The Abbott government has appointed former Liberal MP Sophie Mirabella to the board of the government-owned naval shipbuilding firm ASC Pty Ltd.

Mrs Mirabella, who lost her Victorian seat of Indi at the September election despite the landslide Coalition victory, was one of three new appointments to the board announced on Tuesday.

ASC Pty Ltd, formerly the Australian Submarine Corporation, is the government-owned firm responsible for troubled major projects including the Air Warfare Destroyer and Collins Class submarine.

Mrs Mirabella was the Coalition's spokeswoman for industry in opposition and a close ally of Prime Minister Tony Abbott. However she lost her regional seat to popular independent Cathy McGowan.

Announcing the appointment, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann said Mrs Mirabella's legal background and ''extensive experience working with the manufacturing industry'' meant she will make a valuable contribution to the board.

Labor was quick to attack the appointment. Shadow treasurer Chris Bowen tweeted: ''As we win the ashes & at 5.00 on MYEFO day Govt announces they will appoint S Mirabella to a job. Obviously an appointment they are proud of.''

On Wednesday, Mr Bowen said: ''What does she understand about the Australian Submarine Corporation which other eminently qualified people from industry couldn't have contributed?'' he told ABC television.

Mr Bowen said Labor had appointed people from ''right across the board'' to senior positions, including former Liberal leader Brendan Nelson to a diplomatic posting.

He said that the fact this announcement was made late in the afternoon on a busy news day, when Australia had won the Ashes and the government was involved in the mid-year economic review, spoke volumes, he said.

''Says to me, they're not particularly proud of the appointment either,'' Mr Bowen said.

Peter Iancov and Paul Rizzo join Mrs Mirabella on the board for three-year terms.

The appointments came as the government announced a review into the troubled $8 billion Air Warfare Destroyer program, of which ASC is a partner along with the Defence Materiel Organisation and defence firm Raytheon Australia.

Senator Cormann and Defence Minister David Johnston said in a statement there were ''clearly issues associated with this important programme'' but blamed the problems on the former Labor government.

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