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Subs: Abbott promises 500 jobs

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Prime Minister Tony Abbott today promised at least 500 new jobs would be created for Australians, most of which would be in South Australia, during the ‘build phase’ of future submarines.

However, the Government has made it clear that the Adelaide-based Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC) will only be able to tender for the multi-billion-dollar submarine project if they work with companies in either France, Germany or Japan.

Speaking in Adelaide today, Abbott said about $30 billion would be spent in South Australia, creating about 500 jobs in sustaining the new submarines.

Abbott said the Government had come up with a clear and defensible process to establish good options from which a choice could be made by year’s end.

He said under any possible scenario, there would be more submarine work in Adelaide.

The navy’s six Collins subs would remain in service for another two decades and they would continue to be maintained by shipbuilder ASC.

“There is a long and bright future for the ASC,” Abbott said.

Premier Jay Weatherill said the 500 jobs promise demonstrated that the Federal Government had already decided to award the subs contract overseas.

“A decision has already been taken and they’re trying to retrofit a process to bless it,” he said.

“I don’t know how you pluck a number like that out of the air.

“Nowhere in (Abbott’s) remarks did he repeat the promise he made at the last election to built 12 submarines here in South Australia.”

He said securing the subs contract in South Australia would ensure Australia’s “sovereign capability”.

“It is about our state (and) our nation having the skills and capabilities to defend ourselves,” he said.

Abbott ruled out working with the Swedish company SAAB, which has reportedly offered to build the submarines in Adelaide, should it win the tender.

He said Sweden had not built a submarine since 1996, and the Government was only looking at partnering with submarine builders in Japan, Germany or France.

Today Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said each of those countries would be “invited to participate in this competitive evaluation process that will assess their ability to partner with Australia to develop a Future Submarine that meets our capability requirements”.

“The competitive evaluation process will take around 10 months, after which an international partner will be selected for Australia’s Future Submarine Program.

“Further details about Australian industry involvement are also expected to be known at that point.

“An expert advisory panel will also be appointed to oversee the competitive evaluation process.”

Earlier, Andrews said the ASC can submit a tender provided they work with companies in either of these countries.

“Defence advised that for Australian industry to give the best opportunity to maximise their involvement in the program, it needs to work with a international partner,” Andrews told reporters in Melbourne on Friday.

“All three countries have proven submarine design and build capabilities and are currently producing submarines.”

A decision on which company, and where, Australia’s next generation subs will be built would be made later this year, Andrews said.

Abbott’s Adelaide visit overshadowed a defence policy announcement by the State Government.

Weatherill and Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith launched a 10-year strategy for the state’s defence sector.

The statement sets out targets to grow the defence sector from 27,000 jobs to 37,000 (direct and indirect) and to make a $2.5 billion annual economic contribution by 2020 (up from $2 billion).

– InDaily staff

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