House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Constituency Statements

Defence Procurement

10:47 am

Photo of James StevensJames Stevens (Sturt, Liberal Party) Share this | | Hansard source

We understand, particularly through media reports, that it is imminent that our Prime Minister will be meeting with the US President to make an announcement within the AUKUS framework around the pathway for our future nuclear submarines. As a member from the city of Adelaide, I'm very interested and anxious to see this announcement and to get some certainty around that program. Of course, it was the Morrison government that struck this historic AUKUS deal. The most eye-catching part is, unquestionably, having hunter-killer nuclear powered submarines in the Royal Australian Navy, but, of course, there are a lot of other opportunities and elements to technological collaboration that we can bring with our allies: the United States and the United Kingdom.

There are opportunities for Australian technology and commercialisation. There are also enormous capability opportunities for our armed forces to access technologies that have significant restriction upon them, understandably, particularly by the United States. Whilst we've always been a very trusted partner, this takes things to the next level. As I say, the most tantalising capability outcome for our armed forces is nuclear propulsion submarines. Of course what's very important not only within the capability gain of that is the Australian industry outcome of that decision, and I look forward to—and, frankly, expect—that we will have confirmation that the number of the nuclear submarines will still be eight and that Adelaide will be the manufacturing centre for all eight of those boats.

We have a very proud shipbuilding industry and history in South Australia, but the future, if promises are honoured, is even more exciting. Beyond question, Adelaide will be the shipbuilding centre of the Southern Hemisphere. The most sophisticated shipyards for surface and submarine vessels is out there at Osborne. I visit there regularly, and it fills me with great pride to see the work Adelaide workers, many of whom live in my electorate of Sturt, are doing on the programs already there, particularly on the BAE Hunter class frigate program. But the future submarines are clearly going to be the jewel in the crown, and that is from an industry point of view as well.

Clearly, working with nuclear technology and nuclear reactors means we need very significant, stringent, regulatory safety measures in place. But they present an excellent opportunity. Because we need to invest in that capability there are civilian opportunities for nuclear generation at a dramatic cost reduction because of the change in framework that will have to happen through us having small modular reactors in the building of eight submarines. They are exciting times out at Adelaide, and I look forward with anticipation to those commitments being made by the Prime Minister in the days ahead.