Relief for SA workers as subs promise comes through

Australia’s next fleet of submarines will be built in Adelaide, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull has confirmed.

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The $50 billion submarine deal with French firm DCNS will provide South Australian workers a buffer against rolling job losses. 

It comes just a week after Malcolm Turnbull confirmed offshore patrol vessels will also begin to be built in Adelaide.

Together the projects will provide back-to-back building projects, preventing job losses between contracts.

South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill says the decision will create stability for the state.

“These are the jobs you can plan a career, not just a job for a few weeks, a few months, a few years even, but a career.

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Stephen Perrett is one of hundreds of workers who left ASC last year.

He took a voluntary redundancy at the Adelaide-based shipbuilder last Christmas, fearing more job losses to come.

“It was getting a bit stressful down there, [with no] job security,” he said.

“[I] thought I’d probably be better off getting out before there was 500 other people looking for a job.”

As project work wound down, so too did opportunities for workers and many supporting businesses.

Mr Perrett subsequently found work at nearby small business Exeter Welding.

Before tougher times, the business would pick up contracting jobs from the ASC.

“I think it probably should have happened about three years ago,” Mr Perrett says about the deal.

“It’s sort of, been dragged out a bit, and now we’ve got an election looming and someone wants to take credit for it and hopefully shore themselves up with some votes.”

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Company Director Paul Lundberg says after years of uncertainty, the Prime Minister’s announcement that all 12 submarines will be built in South Australia is welcome.

“There’s a lot of companies that have closed around here that have been in operation 60-70 years,” he says.

“And it’s normally a good barometer that if those type of companies start falling over, well, yeah it is tough.

“This just gives it a fresh lease, so hopefully it will be built on time.”

However, Independent South Australian Senator Nick Xenophon believes the submarine deal will not solve all of South Australia’s job woes. The end of the auto industry is expected next year and there is uncertainty surrounding industrial steelmaker Arrium.

“We are still staring at the valley of death in terms of many, many hundreds of direct jobs doing and thousands of other jobs at stake,” he said. 

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