MORRISON GOVERNMENT MUST PROVIDE ROADMAP FOR DEVASTATED DEFENCE INDUSTRY

By Matt Keogh MP

17 September 2021

Australian Defence industry and thousands of their workers have been left reeling after the Morrison-Joyce Government confirmed the $90 billion submarine contract with Naval Group Australia has been ripped up.  
 
With no notice and in the midst of a pandemic, the rug has been pulled out from under the small and medium businesses in the Australian defence industry supply chain who were already working or were gearing up for work on the Attack Class Submarines.  
 
Labor supports the AUKUS Partnership and the decision to acquire a nuclear-powered submarine fleet but cannot ignore the need to provide a beacon to defence industry now finding themselves in troubled waters. 
 
The previous Future Submarine programme initially promised 90 per cent Australian industry content, then it fell to 80 and then 60 per cent.  
 
Speculation that now only 40% of the new submarine project will be required to be Australian content means the Morrison-Joyce Government must also explain how this new project will create and build sovereign industry capability in Australia, through work for local businesses and securing local jobs.  
 
Australian defence industry has already spent time and money to participate in the Future Submarine Program. They need a roadmap from the Morrison-Joyce Government to show it is now not all going down the drain.  
 
There are a lot of hard-working people who have already been engaged by Naval Group Australia, or were engaged in their supply chain, who had a restless night last night – their futures are now very uncertain. 
 
Labor fundamentally believes that this new submarine program must include Australian owned and controlled businesses, and the sharing and development of intellectual property, technology, and know-how so that Australia can grow the sovereign industrial base required for our national defence.  
 
This new contract is an opportunity to ensure proper planning and commercial arrangements are set in concrete to ensure AIC is a priority, to provide a roadmap for Australian defence industry to have confidence they will be included in what’s expected to be the largest acquisition in our history.  
 
The Morrison-Joyce Government must be clear about what this change in direction will mean for the Australian businesses and their workers that were making the transition to supporting the manufacture of the dumped Attack Class Submarine.