ADELAIDE MEDIA CONFERENCE
12 NOON – ASC SOUTH (AT THE WHARF)
The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) – which represents shipbuilders around Australia – has cautiously welcomed rumours that the Prime Minister will imminently announce a build of the future frigates in Australia.
However the union has called for the Prime Minister to hold to his election commitment and immediate promise to build, sustain and maintain the promised 12 submarines in Adelaide.
The union awaits the detail of the decision before expressing confidence in the Coalition’s shipbuilding policy.
“We are concerned to ensure this isn’t a déjà vu of shipbuilding promises,” said AMWU Assistant National Secretary Glenn Thompson.
“We have already been burnt once on a promise to build the submarines in Australia. We don’t want to be burnt again.
“The industry has entered the ‘valley of death’ so we need to ensure this work comes online as soon as possible,” said Mr Thompson
SA Assistant Secretary Colin Fenney said “We have serious concerns that this announcement is about nothing more than shoring up the disastrous standing of Liberal MPs and Senators in South Australia.”
“South Australian Liberals have been asleep at the wheel as Tony Abbott and Joe Hockey abandoned the car industry and thousands of auto workers.”
“Local SA Liberals should be publicly standing up to the Prime Minister to honour the Coalition’s pre election promise to build future Submarines in SA or they will face a grass roots campaign reminding the public they can’t be trusted,” said Mr Fenney.
The union remains concerned that this announcement will not be enough to sustain shipbuilding jobs in the industry, which has already entered the ‘valley of death’ – or will turn out to be another hollow promise.
“We haven’t yet seen the detail although we welcome the early language around a long-term continuous build – which we have always advocated for,” said Mr Thompson.
“But the submarines project is crucial. It is the linchpin to Australia’s naval shipbuilding industry in terms of technology, skills and time-frame.
“A promise, is a promise, is a promise, and we will be holding them to honour the submarine promise right up until the next election,’ Mr Thompson said.
Mr Thompson said that while the frigates were a good start, any decent government would consider the industry’s future in the longer term.
“What Australia needs is a Federal Government with the vision to commit to building not only the frigates, but also our future submarines, Pacific patrol boats, replacement Border Force and Customs vessels, Navy supply vessels and a replacement icebreaker for the Australian Antarctic Division.
“Australian Industry has a skilled and capable workforce to meet a continuous build program over the next 30 plus years, if only we had a Government that put Australia’s economic and national security interests first,” Mr Thompson said.