Questions are growing over the future of maintenance work in Adelaide on the navy’s Collins Class submarines with plans under way to expand a marine complex in Perth.
Both South Australia and Western Australia have bid for the maintenance contract with both states anxiously awaiting a decision from the federal government.
That was initially expected towards the end of 2019 or early in 2020 but was pushed back because of the coronavirus pandemic.
SA Opposition Leader Peter Malinauskas said he was concerned the work was heading west with the WA government, in conjunction with the Commonwealth, issuing a tender to expand the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson.
He said that could put up to 700 jobs in Adelaide at risk.
“The uncertainty surrounding these jobs has gone on for far too long,” he said.
“Defence Industry stakeholders have been telling us that the indecision is already costing jobs in South Australia.
“This tender document raises even more questions about the future of these jobs, with Western Australia pressing ahead with plans for facilities specifically tailored to cater for the Collins Class submarines.”
The Australian Federation of Shipbuilding Unions has also called on the federal government to reveal the future location of the work.
Kept in limbo
SA convener Peter Bauer said workers in SA had been kept in limbo for more than 18 months with the indecision hurting families and costing jobs.
“If a decision on full-cycle docking has been made, workers deserve to know,” he said.
“This tender seems to show that the federal government has made a decision on full-cycle docking, but doesn’t want to announce it.”
South Australian Premier Steven Marshall has campaigned hard to keep full-cycle maintenance in SA, arguing Adelaide is the best place to do the work.
He was unfazed by the release of the WA tender document.
“I think it’s a sign that there’s an election in Western Australia imminently,” he said.