ASFU Press Statement

Statement in response to the AUKUS trilateral security pact announcement


The Australian Shipbuilding Federation of Unions (ASFU) cautiously acknowledges the 14th of March announcement in San Diego of the parties to the AUKUS trilateral security pact – the governments of Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States – to commit to a joint-build of a whole new class of submarine that will maximise the involvement of the shipbuilding and defence industries of Australia.

Today’s announcement leaves open more questions than answers on how Australia will build the workforce of the future. The ASFU seeks a commitment from the government that today’s announcement is not simply a repeat of successive governments’ policy failures to plan for the long term.

The AUKUS submarine build should represent a project of scale and scope unprecedented in Australia’s shipbuilding and manufacturing history. The building of the Australian navy’s next generation of submarines should propel Australia’s shipbuilding industry towards sovereign capabilities that guarantee thousands of skilled jobs and apprenticeships for decades to come.

The ASFU is concerned that today’s AUKUS pact announcement will not deliver the necessary developments to Australia’s shipbuilding and defence industrial capabilities, which are centred on the Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide, by developing a workforce with thousands of jobs being created over the next several decades, including hundreds of apprenticeships and cadetships each year.

The ASFU understands that the AUKUS project will fundamentally transform Australia’s manufacturing industries and secure our national sovereign capability in shipbuilding for the foreseeable future. The ASFU still remains very concerned about the capability gap between the life of type extension (LOTE) and the future submarine build.

“The ASFU have continuously said that to build the workforce you need to build something”. We are calling on the Albanese government to spell out what it is we are going to build to ensure a base workforce of at least 5000 jobs at the commencement of the future submarine program.

QUOTE: ASFU National Convenor Glenn Thompson

ASFU NATIONAL convenor Glenn Thompson, said the ASFU looks forward to working with the Federal Government’s Defence Minister, the Hon Richard Marles and Defence Industry Minister, the Hon Pat Conroy, to deliver the ASFU’s key priorities for the Osborne Naval Shipyard and the AUKUS project, including several undertakings by the Government in its commitments to the ASFU:

  • A commitment to a joint union/industry led workforce development program in South Australia culminating in the establishment of an Engineering Centre of Excellence to train and develop the next generation of shipbuilding engineers, tradespeople and apprentices;
  • A commitment to establishing a precinct industrial agreement that will facilitate the interoperability of the AUKUS project between firms located at Osborne, and within the broader defence industry, and to facilitate the portability of shipbuilding workers’ employment, skills and qualifications;
  • A commitment to a building program in South Australia that will ensure a skilled ready workforce is developed immediately, as will be necessary for the future AUKUS submarine build given that the Life-of-Type Extension of the Collins Class submarines and worker exchanges to the UK and USA to develop skills and experience will not be sufficient to prepare Australian defence manufacturing industries for the AUKUS build; and
  • A commitment to ASFU consultation and direct involvement in the international UK/USA workforce exchange program.

For Further Comment Alex McKinnon 0419 286 145