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ASC sheds more jobs as Govt plays down "disastrous" subs leak

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Adelaide shipbuilder ASC is shedding a further 175 jobs as the Air Warfare Destroyer project winds down.

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The Osborne-based Government-owned shipbuilder said in a statement today it had notified its shipbuilding workforce “that it will need to reduce the number of trade positions on the AWD project by approximately 175 by the end of October”, as part of the “planned and progressive reductions” ongoing since the project’s peak.

Around 75 of the positions to be jettisoned are permanent, with the remaining targeting contract staff, with jobs across the structural, electrical, piping, mechanical and operator trade groups set to go.

ASC said both voluntary and non-voluntary redundancy packages will be offered.

A spate of new projects had been hoped to be able to alleviate staff shedding. The company says it “stands ready, willing and able to take part in future shipbuilding projects and retains the ability to do so… however, the company has always maintained that due to the schedules of the AWD, offshore patrol vessel and future frigate programs, some job losses are still necessary before the start of the next program”.

Premier Jay Weatherill said “sadly we knew that we were heading towards this gap [before] the beginning of the patrol boats and frigates”.

“It doesn’t make it any easier for the workers and their families,” he said, offering an assurance to them that his Government was “working incredibly hard to make sure you and your families have job security”.

It comes as the Federal Government tries to hose down concerns over a reported leak of secret documents pertaining to submarine work by French contractor DCNS, with Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull insisting it has no bearing on the company’s build of Australia’s new $50 billion submarine fleet.

Nevertheless, Turnbull concedes any leak of classified information is a concern.

The leaked documents, reportedly seen by The Australian newspaper, run to 22,400 pages and detail the secret combat capability of six Scorpene-class submarines French shipbuilder DCNS designed for the Indian Navy.

In April, DCNS won the hotly-contested tender ahead of Germany and Japan to design 12 new submarines for Australia, with the build to be centred in South Australia.

The Shortfin Barracuda was chosen because of its quietness, which is suited to water-based intelligence-gathering operations.

The leak raises concerns that information about the submarines, and the latest US stealth technology, might not be secure.

“The submarine that they are building for India is not submarine they are building for Australia. It is a completely different submarine,” Turnbull told the Seven Network.

Defence has told the Government the reported leak had no bearing Australia’s submarine program.

“The Future Submarine Program operates under stringent security requirements,” Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne said in a statement.

“The same requirements apply to the protection of all sensitive information and technical data for the Collins class submarines, and have operated successfully for decades.”

Turnbull said the leak was a reminder of the critical importance of cyber security in the modern digital world.

DCNS told News Corp “uncontrolled technical data is not possible in the Australian arrangements”.

It implied – but did not confirm – the leak was on the Indian side.

But The Australian said it had been told the Scorpene data was suspected of being removed from France in 2011 by a former French Navy officer who was a DCNS subcontractor.

SA senator Nick Xenophon intends to pursue the the matter when parliament returns next week.

“This is really quite disastrous,” he told ABC radio.

“It must be investigated at the highest levels; there must be a public disclosure of what that investigation brings out.”

-with AAP

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