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Read all the latest news from Brendan O'Connor MP


September 16, 2021

Labor looks forward to strengthened cooperation with our close allies, through the AUKUS partnership announced today.

This affirms what Labor has been calling for; deeper partnerships with allied and aligned nations, to build a region which is stable, prosperous and respectful of sovereignty.

This partnership must add to our existing engagements. It also underlines the need to work more closely with other partners in our region including ASEAN members.

We will seek further details about opportunities offered by this partnership, including for enhanced domestic technology capabilities through increased co-operation and information sharing.

Labor also remains committed to ensuring that defence production/procurement agreements lead to more jobs in Australia, and build skills and expertise in our homegrown workforce.

Getting the men and women of the ADF the best possible equipment, on time and on budget, is essential, which is why eight long years of mismanagement of defence procurement has been so troubling.

While there is much that we welcome, it’s also clear that today’s announcement is the single biggest admission of failure on the part of the Morrison-Joyce Government over its $90 billion Future Submarines program. A program that is running 10 years late from its original schedule and $40 billion over budget.

Eight years into this program and after three separate deals, Mr Morrison is now starting from scratch.

In addition to a yet unknown cancellation fee for the Attack Class contract, up to $4 billion has already been spent. The Government must be transparent about how much money has been burnt in the process.

The Government has made clear the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines will not require a domestic civil nuclear industry, is compatible with the Non Proliferation Treaty and has ruled out the acquisition of nuclear weapons. We will hold them to these commitments.

We accept that this technology is now the best option for Australia’s capability.

The Morrison-Joyce Government must also urgently explain:
• The cost of this new plan.
• The number of submarines to be built.
• The impact of today’s announcement on local jobs and businesses
• The timeline for construction and delivery of the nuclear-powered submarine capability.
• The impact on the Life of Type Extension (LOTE) of the Collins Class submarines.
• How local skills and know how will be delivered through the biggest acquisition in Australia’s history.
Labor calls on the Morrison-Joyce Government to guarantee no net job losses in South Australia or Western Australia.

Given the importance of this multi-decade agreement to Australia’s national interests it is critical that in this pre-caretaker period that both parties of government work together to secure the path forward. Labor will be seeking deeper consultation, including proposing a joint structure going forward.