AUKUS Submarine Deal to Generate Thousands of Jobs in Australia
The newly revealed multi-billion dollar AUKUS submarine deal will generate thousands of jobs for the Australian economy in the coming decades as the government is expected to invest heavily in infrastructure and the workforce.
On March 14, the Australian government announced that it was developing a plan to build up the industrial capacity, infrastructure, and workforce needed to deliver advanced nuclear-powered submarines to the Australian Defence Force.
The government said the plan would create up to 20,000 direct jobs across industries, the defence force and public service over the next 30 years.
A lot of trade workers, operators, technicians, engineers, scientists, submariners and project managers will be needed as the Australian industry is expected to supply components for American and British production lines to reduce bottlenecks in the supply chain.
Under the AUKUS agreement, Australia will purchase up to five U.S.-made nuclear-powered submarines over the next decade and build new AUKUS class submarines with UK and U.S. technologies in South Australia by 2042.
The Australian government is expected to spend between $268 billion (US$179 billion) to $368 billion through to 2055 for the program.
Details of the Plan
The federal government has designated South Australia as the place for building the submarines and will invest $2 billion in new infrastructure at the Osborne submarine construction yard.
The yard’s construction will require around 4,000 workers, and a further 4,000 to 5,500 will be needed to build the submarines when the program reaches its peak.
In addition, the government will spend $8 billion to expand the HMAS Stirling naval base at Garden Island in Western Australia to house Australia’s first nuclear-powered submarines.
Around 3,000 workers will be needed to build wharves, training facilities and supporting infrastructure, while another 500 roles will be created to sustain the base during the rotations of UK and U.S. submarines between 2027 and 2032 as part of the AUKUS deal.
Regarding the workforce, the federal government said it would work with the South Australian government to develop an academy to deliver the tailored education, training and skilling needed for building the submarines.
It also planned to introduce new education and training courses, including the expansion of the Sovereign Shipbuilding Talent Pool, as well as new tertiary courses for nuclear engineering at the University of New South Wales and nuclear science at the Australian National University.
Furthermore, the government intends to establish mechanisms that allow Australian industries to register interest in participating in nuclear-powered submarine programs.
Response from Relevant Parties
Treasurer Jim Chalmers said the heavy investments to acquire the nuclear-powered submarines were necessary for Australia’s future.
“This is a game-changing investment. It will be worth every cent … when it comes to our national security, our national economy,” Chalmers said from the HMAS Stirling naval base in Western Australia.
“This is the biggest industrial undertaking in Australia’s history, and Western Australia is absolutely front and centre.”
Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said the investment in skills and education for building the submarines would provide job opportunities for new apprentices that would last for their whole careers.
South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas noted that the significance of the investment in the Osborne submarine construction yard could not be overstated.
“That means more highly skilled, highly paid jobs across our economy that will help lift the standard of living for generations of South Australians,” he said.
Meanwhile, New South Wales Premier Dominic Perrottet believed the federal government should use Port Kembla in south Sydney as a base for the submarines on the east coast.
While politicians sang the AUKUS deal’s praises, the Australian Shipbuilding Federation of Unions was concerned about the gap between the extension work on the current Collins-class submarines and the new submarine build.
As such, the union called on the government to provide more details on the new submarines.
“We’ve continuously said that to build the workforce, you need to build something,” national convenor Glenn Thompson said in comments obtained by AAP.
“We are calling on the Albanese government to spell out what local shipbuilding workers are going to build to ensure a base workforce of at least 5,000 jobs.”
Emel Akan and John Haughey contributed to this article.