Scott Morrison has been grilled on the Collins Class submarine jobs, saying workers were doing a great job but not committing to the future.
Scott Morrison has been grilled on the Collins Class submarine jobs, saying workers were doing a great job but not committing to the future.

PM tight-lipped on shipyard jobs

Scott Morrison is no closer to making a decision about a lucrative submarine contract, 16 months overdue, leaving hundreds of shipyard workers in limbo.

The Prime Minister acknowledged the "great capability" of the South Australian workforce, which has been desperately seeking assurances their jobs won't be shifted to Western Australia, during a visit to Adelaide on Wednesday.

But Mr Morrison said a decision about where future Collins Class submarine maintenance would take place was yet to be made.

"That matter is not one that needs to be addressed at this point," he said.

"There are still many years before we are in that position, and there are a series of other issues we are dealing with across the procurements, where I am focusing my attention right now."

Scott Morrison visited space and Defence industries while in Adelaide on Wednesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin
Scott Morrison visited space and Defence industries while in Adelaide on Wednesday. Picture: NCA NewsWire / Dean Martin

The government's top secret national security committee was expected to announce where full cycle docking for the ageing Collins Class submarine fleet would be based in December 2019.

Shipbuilder ASC had even drafted press releases about the decision, which was instead put on ice.

SA federal politicians and Defence industry experts this week revealed hopes that Peter Dutton's appointment to the Defence portfolio would speed up the decision.

Although many believe the longer the wait, the better the chance SA will retain the lucrative contract supporting 700 jobs.

Collins Class submarine HMAS Sheean in the water off Western Australia.
Collins Class submarine HMAS Sheean in the water off Western Australia.

Despite the ongoing uncertainty, Mr Morrison had a message for the workers at Osborne: "Keep working."

"They are doing a great job," he said.

"What has been achieved here with the Collins Class full cycle docking has been extraordinary.

"They have demonstrated a great capability. It is one that I take very seriously and acknowledge."

Experts speculated the delay was due to the political toxicity of the decision, with both SA and WA lobbying the government to secure the work.

In February 2020, Mr Morrison said he wouldn't "rush" the important decision, adding it would be made in the national interest.

Insiders have criticised former defence minister and WA senator Linda Reynolds for being "too close" to the Defence department and unable to push them on capability issues.

Collins Class submarine HMAS Sheean berthed in Fremantle.
Collins Class submarine HMAS Sheean berthed in Fremantle.

 

Originally published as PM tight-lipped on shipyard jobs



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