The Australian Manufacturing Workers’ Union (AMWU) has welcomed Prime Minister Kevin Rudd’s announcement that they will fast-track the construction of two new Navy supply ships if Labor is re-elected.
In a media release, AMWU says the commitment will save jobs and give valuable certainty to the shipbuilding industry. National Secretary Paul Bastian says the move will help ensure the industry gets through the “valley of death” expected in a couple of years.
“This announcement will help naval shipbuilding through a temporary drop-off in work in 2015, known as the “valley of death”. If we don’t get guaranteed work we risk permanently losing jobs and skills in shipbuilding,” Mr. Bastian said.
“Ensuring there is work in our shipyards in 2015 means we can retain our world-class shipbuilding jobs and skills for the future. The important element is to maximise local work through these builds.”
On Thursday morning PM Rudd announced the construction of two new supply ships for the navy, with at least one of the ships to be partially built in Australia, saying the decision will support hundreds of high-skill jobs.
While the AMWU has welcomed the certainty of shipbuilding jobs, the organization said it will still push for ships to be built entirely in Australia, rather than the hybrid option model in which part of the ship is built overseas and the rest in Australia.
“Australia has the skills and expertise to build ships from scratch and doing this makes sure that our defence forces get vessels suited to Australian conditions.
“We would urge that future decisions be to build all of our ships here in Australia and to use this once in a lifetime opportunity to grow an industry and build our nation.”
However Bastian says the Coalition Government has to match Labor’s policy and also demonstrate a firm commitment to support the country’s naval shipbuilding and maritime engineering industries.
“Not a single Liberal MP has signed our pledge to design, build and maintain our defence ships here,” said Bastian.
“The Coalition has refused to commit to support shipbuilding in Australia, and we are calling on Shadow Defence Minister David Johnston, Joe Hockey and Tony Abbott to announce their policy and provide certainty and vision to the industry before next Saturday’s election.”
“If the Coalition wants to be taken seriously on manufacturing they need to commit to support shipbuilding jobs and we demand they make their policy known ahead of the election so people can make an informed decision when they vote.”