Japanese visit sparks fears about submarine project

The visit of a delegation of about 40 Japanese submarine experts to the ASC facility in South Australia has raised concerns Australia may look overseas to build future submarines.

The ABC reports that South Australian Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith called on the Federal Government to explain what the visit was about and who was included in the visiting delegation.

"I think the Coalition could explain why this visit's been held in such secrecy," he said.

"Who's in the party, is it senior military officials from Japan or defence department officials, is it at the political level?"

Mr Hamilton-Smith wasn’t the only one to raise concerns.

AAP reports that Federal Labor MP Mark Butler also expressed concern about the secrecy of the visit. He said that the government was ‘sneaking’ the Japanese party in after having already pledged that future submarine construction would be carried out in Australia.

And, according to the Adelaide Advertiser, Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union state secretary John Camillo said he was gravely concerned by the visit and by the possibility the government could reverse its policy.

“The livelihood of thousands of workers here in South Australia could be lost by the wrong decision,’’ he said.

However, Federal Defence Minister David Johnston rejected claims of secrecy. He confirmed that the visit had taken place and said it was part of the bilateral agreement between Australia and Japan.

"They're down here looking at defence science and technology and we are discussing ways whereby we may both collaborate in that space to the mutual advantage of each of our countries," he told ABC Radio.

Image: The Adelaide Advertiser

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