Australian industry will benefit with thousands of jobs bankrolled from a nuclear submarine deal worth hundreds of billions of dollars.
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the large amount of money to acquire eight-nuclear powered submarines would be an investment in Australia’s future.
“This is a game-changing investment. It will be worth every cent … when it comes to our national security, our national economy,” Dr Chalmers said from the HMAS Stirling naval base in Western Australia.
“This is the biggest industrial undertaking in Australia’s history and Western Australia is absolutely front and centre.”
The plan includes buying three US Virginia-class vessels during the 2030s before a new AUKUS class comes into construction late next decade.
The first of the new-generation subs will be built in the UK before Australia receives its initial vessel about 2042.
About $2 billion will be spent in South Australia over the next four years to design and build new infrastructure at the Osborne submarine construction yard.
Building the yard will support 4000 jobs at its peak, while 4000 to 5500 jobs will be supported to assemble the submarines at the height of that program.
About $8 billion will be spent expanding the HMAS Stirling naval base at Garden Island, just south of Perth, to service submarines during their operations.
The money will go towards wharf upgrades, training facilities and supporting infrastructure.
It is expected to support 3000 workers and 500 roles will be needed to uphold the base during rotations between 2027 and 2032.
A total of 20,000 new jobs across the nation are expected over the coming three decades.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said all three AUKUS nations would contribute to the task.
Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said the investment in skills and education would enable an apprentice starting today to spend their whole career building the submarines.
Australian industry will also work towards supplying components for American and British production lines to help ease bottlenecks in the supply chain.
South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas, who is heading to the UK to inspect shipyards, said the significance of the investment could not be overstated.
“That means more highly skilled, highly paid jobs across our economy that will help lift the standard of living for generations of South Australians,” he said.
NSW Premier Dominic Perrottet said he believed Port Kembla, south of Sydney, should be used as an east coast base for the submarines.
But the Australian Shipbuilding Federation of Unions said the announcement raised more questions than it answered and called for more detail.
“We’ve continuously said that to build the workforce you need to build something,” national convenor Glenn Thompson said, raising concerns about the gap between Collins class extension work and the new submarine build.
“We are calling on the Albanese government to spell out what local shipbuilding workers are going to build to ensure a base workforce of at least 5000 jobs.”
(Australian Associated Press)