About 100 workers assembled in Adelaide on Saturday, demanding that the government build the next 12 submarines and patrol boats in the city or see 1,400 job losses.
The AMWU claims that 1,400 jobs would be lost in the city without the commitment to build local manufacture of the vessels. The recently-released defence white paper recommended a dozen submarines and a dozen patrol boats be built, though did not specify where.
Assistant secretary of the union, Glenn Thompson, said 1,400 jobs would be lost without the commitment, and voters would turn on prime minister Malcolm Turnbull if the industry went overseas.
“[Industry minister Christopher] Pyne is out there talking down the capacity of our shipbuilding industry when he should be its greatest defender,” Thompson said.
“It’s no wonder that voters in his own electorate are ready to put the boot in.”
AAP and others report that opposition leader Bill Shorten attended the rally, telling attendees that a coalition victory would see the demise of the country’s manufacturing sector. The question of where submarines were built was actually about whether “we want to be a country that makes things” according to the opposition leader.
The government quickly replied with an accusation of hypocrisy, saying Labor never placed a new ship order during six years in government.
“It is hypocritical in the extreme and they should be exposed for the absolute hypocrites that they are,” said defence minister Marise Payne.
The Advertiser notes that the next few weeks will see 110 workers at ASC lose their jobs through a combination of voluntary and forced redundancies.