House debates

Tuesday, 2 February 2021

Constituency Statements

Defence Industry

4:24 pm

Photo of Mark ButlerMark Butler (Hindmarsh, Australian Labor Party, Deputy Manager of Opposition Business in the House of Representatives) Share this | | Hansard source

Late last year, flying in with much fanfare, the Prime Minister finally decided to visit the shipyards at Osborne, in my electorate. What did the workers at Osborne expect from the Prime Minister? Well, they were hoping for a commitment that the full-cycle docking work, which employs hundreds of highly skilled workers, that has been performed at Osborne for many decades would continue at that site. They were expecting a commitment to local content, after initially being promised by Christopher Pyne in 2016 that 90 per cent of the next generation of submarine build work would be done by Australian workers—and, more recently, at least 60 per cent.

What did they get instead? They got another photo-op with no substance. Scott Morrison flew into Adelaide and declared the shipyard ready and open for the next shipbuilding, even though we're now told there may be a further delay of two years to the project, which would mean hundreds of jobs lost here in South Australia as the offshore patrol vessel work moves to Western Australia. When asked if the Prime Minister had finally decided whether full-cycle docking would continue to be performed at Osborne, Scott Morrison said the decision 'wasn't a priority'. This is a complete slap in the face for the 700 South Australian workers and their families whose future has been hanging by a thread because of the Prime Minister's refusal to guarantee their jobs will remain in Adelaide. We've now passed two Christmases, two summers, since this speculation was first raised, and the workers and their families at Osborne are still none the wiser about whether their jobs will remain in Adelaide or be shipped off to Perth.

This government has form on betraying the shipbuilding from Osborne. They had no plan in place once the Air Warfare Destroyer program concluded, costing hundreds and hundreds of workers their livelihoods. Many of those workers could have been employed to build the next generation of the Navy's supply ships, as Labor had promised before 2013, but this government sent the supply ship contract to Spain instead, not even allowing Australian shipyards the opportunity to bid for the work. Now, with the Future Submarine project, the biggest purchase in Australian history, the Morrison government has inexplicably failed to make it a legal requirement that a minimum amount of the build work be done here in Australia. Today, The Advertiser published an article that finally puts to bed the lie that Osborne—

A division having been called in the House of Representatives—

Sitting suspended from 16 : 27 to 16 : 38