A decision regarding who will build the 12 submarines for Australia is yet to be announced by the Government, even though Prime Minister Tony Abbott has hinted on numerous occasions that the Japanese are the front-runners and the country will most like buy Japanese off-the-shelf subs.
According to an AFR report, German ThyssenKrupp has also made a bid to build the next generation of submarines for Australia in a joint-venture with Adelaide-based Australian Submarine Corporation (ASC), which comes in under $20 billion.
Numerous news agencies report that Australia might end up acquiring a fleet of stealth diesel engine submarines based on the Japanese Maritime Self-Defence Force’s Soryu class vessels.
Experts say that this decision could see Australia paying the same amount of money for these subs as it would pay for locally manufactured submarines due to their low-quality, short lifetime and high maintenance costs.
All this speculation has spread unrest and anger among workers who will be directly affected by the Government’s decision and want immediate answers.
The Australian Manufacturing Workers Union (AMWU) has voiced its discontent about the matter.
AMWU National Secretary Paul Bastian, and Labor Opposition Leader Bill Shorten, addressed over 1,500 workers that walked off the job on Tuesday at the ASC in Adelaide to attend a mass meeting on the future of their jobs and the shipbuilding industry in Australia.
National Secretary Paul Bastian reassured the gathered workers that he will continue pressuring the Coalition Government to keep the industry alive and turn its back on the possible decision to purchase twelve Japanese submarines instead of manufacturing them locally.
“A year ago David Johnston stood here and promised to build 12 subs right here in Adelaide. Today, the papers read we are likely to see Japanese submarines – Do you feel betrayed?” Mr Bastian asked the crowd.
Federal Opposition Leader, Bill Shorten vowed to keep the project in Australia if elected.
“Australia’s security relies on four uniforms: Army, Navy, Air Force and Defence Contractor, which is you,” he said.
ASC worker and AMWU delegate, Glenn Dallimore said he felt betrayed by the Coalition Government’s lack of commitment, “this is an incredibly risky proposition to our sovereign capability into the future.”
Many have criticised Shorten’s speech, calling it racist and disturbing.
“WHEN Bill Shorten stood on a flatbed truck to address a union rally at the gates of the Australian Submarine Corp in Adelaide on Tuesday, he seized on the worst instincts of old Australia and made a pitch to workers that stank with racist and protectionist rhetoric,” writes Troy Bramston for The Australian.
“Shorten’s language is increasingly opportunistic and prone to overreach. He was one of Labor’s better communicators. He needs to avoid silly one-liners — like “Torpedo Tony” used in Adelaide — and rethink how he articulates Labor’s messages.”