Malinauskas mixed messages as Labor fails to get on the same subs page

Wednesday 15 March 2023
Malinauskas mixed messages as Labor fails to get on the same subs page

Thousands of South Australian defence jobs are at risk and significant question marks remain over project timelines as Labor leaders repeatedly contradict each other on key details of the AUKUS agreement announced yesterday.

The future of up to 1,500 South Australian jobs are on the chopping block after Federal Defence Minister Richard Marles refused to guarantee the Collins Life of Type Extension work would be completed at Osborne.

In a shocking turn of events yesterday - after Peter Malinauskas gave assurances the “Commonwealth hasn’t changed its plans in respect to the Life of Type Extension work” - Richard Marles gave the Premier a reality check.

When asked if the Life of Type Extension work would be completed after the acquisition of Virginia Class Submarines, Mr Marles said: “I think the honest answer to that question is that will give future governments options in the precise mix of the submarine fleet”.

Peter Malinauskas got a second dose of reality when Minister for Foreign Affairs, Penny Wong, went against the Premier after being asked when ‘will South Australians be working on the first SSN-AUKUS submarine?’

“We will look at around the early 2030s of being able to have that design and construction in Adelaide,” Ms Wong said.

Earlier, Peter Malinauskas said “it’ll be in the second half of this decade (2020s)”.

Leader of the Opposition, David Speirs, said the mixed messaging is a concerning snapshot of the “chaos and confusion occurring behind Labor’s closed doors” over the AUKUS deal.

“How can South Australians trust Peter Malinauskas’ word when his guarantees about submarines are being directly contradicted by his federal Labor mates,” Mr Speirs said.

“When it comes to the AUKUS deal, Peter Malinauskas and Anthony Albanese clearly aren’t on the same page because the state and federal Labor teams are giving different answers to the same questions.

“This raises serious concerns on when and if the thousands of South Australian jobs promised under the AUKUS deal will be delivered.

“The most concerning of contradictions is Richard Marles’ refusal to guarantee the Collins Life of Type Extension work will be completed at Osborne, which is the opposite of what Peter Malinauskas claims he was told by Anthony Albanese.”

Shadow Minister for Defence and Space Industries, Stephen Patterson, called on Peter Malinauskas to clear up the confusion before his UK trip.

“South Australians need clarity and those working on the Collins Life of Type Extension work deserve up front answers about their futures from Peter Malinauskas,” Mr Patterson said.

“We’re still waiting on Peter Malinauskas to guarantee no net job losses for South Australia - and every day he delays, we become more suspicious of the reasons why.

“Peter Malinauskas is quickly losing credibility when it comes to talking about submarines being built in Adelaide and we fear South Australian workers could be left high and dry as a result.”