House debates

Thursday, 24 October 2019


Defence Industry

4:29 pm

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Shadow Minister for Climate Change and Energy) Share this | Hansard source

My electorate of Hindmarsh has been the home of Australian shipbuilding, submarine building and submarine maintenance for decades. The shipyards at Osborne at the top of my electorate are home to a level of expertise, experience and dedication to Australia's naval security that you simply can't find anywhere else in our country: 2,100 highly-skilled workers at the Osborne shipyards have dedicated their working lives to that work and to Australia's national security.

But this government has shown the workers of South Australia nothing but contempt in return for that dedication. Already this government betrayed shipbuilders and submariners in Hindmarsh when they had no plan—not a single thought in place—once the Air Warfare Destroyer Program had wound down, costing 577 workers their livelihoods. They decided to send the supply ship contract to Spain, not even giving our local shipyards the opportunity to bid for it, putting at risk hundreds of shipbuilding jobs at Osborne as the AWD project reached its conclusion.

Now they are further betraying the workers at Osborne. Freedom of information documents revealed that the government has already spent $14 million on a plan to remove submarine full-cycle docking from Osborne, despite Australian naval infrastructure boss David Knox saying that there are two land options available at Osborne to continue this vital work and to protect the 700 jobs at ASC that have been performing this work literally for decades. Under questioning from Labor, officials from the Department of Defence revealed that, in addition to the 577 workers who have lost their jobs in South Australian shipbuilding just since 2017, a further 220 jobs are now at risk by the end of March 2020. South Australian workers will be going into Christmas not knowing whether their jobs are secure or whether they'll have a job by Easter next year. Removing submarine full-cycle docking from Hindmarsh would not just devastate those 700 workers and their families; it would affect almost 800 businesses and leave a $400 million hole in the economic fabric of South Australia.

This government has form in betraying the people of South Australia. First they goaded the car industry, which had been there for decades, to leave our state, betraying thousands of South Australians, including in my electorate of Hindmarsh. That decision affected not only those who were directly employed by Holden but also 24,000 workers employed across the supply chain for car manufacturing. We know that many of the Holden workers who have found new work, after this government abandoned South Australian manufacturing, now work for lower pay, fewer hours and in worse working conditions.

Not only is this federal Liberal government leaving hundreds of South Australian workers in limbo; the South Australian Liberal state government can barely be bothered to fight for the shipyard and submarine workers. It was revealed in Senate estimates this week that the Marshall Liberal government of South Australia did not even bother putting their plan to defend those South Australian full-cycle docking jobs to the Department of Defence until last Monday, two whole weeks after the Western Australian government had submitted their claim to that work, which, as I said, has been performed in South Australia literally for decades. Premier Marshall and his weak government are more interested in keeping their Canberra mates happy than in standing up for South Australian jobs and for South Australian families.

Under the Marshall Liberal government, unemployment in South Australia is a full one per cent higher than the national average. Last month Premier Marshall laid claim to the dubious title of having the highest unemployment in the country. Even with that, he simply can't be bothered to lift a hand and to fight for 700 South Australians and their jobs. Steven Marshall's Liberal government is simply missing in action on South Australian jobs. The South Australian federal Liberals are missing in action on South Australian jobs. State and federal Labor are the only ones standing up for the Osborne shipyards, for the nearly 800 South Australian businesses who will suffer from a downgrade of those shipyards, for the 700 workers whose jobs are at risk and for all South Australians who benefit from that economic activity.


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