Submarine protest – ASC workers send canoe to Defence Minister

Western Australian employees of ship builder ASC yesterday sent a canoe to the electorate office of Defence Minister David Johnston.

The ‘gift’, which had 'Made in Japan' written on its side, referred to the Minister’s recent comment that ASC couldn’t be trusted to build a canoe and protested the government’s apparent preference to build Australia’s next generation of submarines in Japan.

AMWU Assistant National Secretary Glenn Thompson said in a statement that the Minister had ignored all the facts presented to government.

“The reality is that independent experts from the military, from industry and from universities have all given evidence that it would be cost and time efficient to build the next fleet of submarines and supply frigates in Australia, by Australian workers,” said Thompson.

“With the resources industry coming off the boil, we need governments to back other sectors of the economy, like shipbuilding,” added AMWU State Secretary Steve McCartney.

The perceived insensitivity of the ‘canoe’ comment and the government’s handling of the submarine project have combined with other factors to put pressure on Johnston’s future as Defence minister.

As the ABC reports, the Department of Defence is investigating leaked receipts which show that Senator Johnston has spent $6384 on meals with visiting members of foreign governments and local industry chiefs.

The leaks come as the government and Senator Johnston are under pressure over the pay offer to the Australian Defence Force (ADF).

Prime Minister Tony Abbott said the Defence Minister has his full confidence, but refused to confirm that he will keep his job next year.