House of Assembly: Thursday, March 09, 2023


AUKUS Submarines

Mr PATTERSON (Morphett) (14:11): My question is to the Minister for Defence and Space Industries. What work is the minister undertaking to prepare the Osborne precinct for AUKUS?

The Hon. P.B. MALINAUSKAS (Croydon—Premier) (14:11): I thank the shadow minister for his question. The state government, through Defence SA, the department for industries and skills and the Department of the Premier and Cabinet, is actively engaged with the commonwealth on the most important element of ensuring this work occurs at Osborne in the future, and that is workforce development.

There is nothing more critical to the state's policy interests than working with the commonwealth on workforce development, which is why, going right back to the Jobs and Skills Summit hosted by the Prime Minister last year, we went over there with a very specific, finite proposition that the state government co-chair a task force around developing a workforce strategy exclusively for naval shipbuilding in South Australia into the future. That task force is now underway. It is being led out of DPC in conjunction with DIS to do that enterprise.

I am not seeking to make a partisan point, but what we have seen is various iterations of policy efforts around workforce development for the naval shipbuilding program that haven't been able to realise the ambitions associated with them. Given the AUKUS announcement, now is more than an opportune time—in fact, it is a critical time—to actually develop a comprehensive strategy that isn't just the state government doing it or the commonwealth government doing it unilaterally but, rather, together in conjunction with industry to make sure we've got workforce development activities, training and skills activities, happening in a coordinated way that actually delivers to industry what they require to complete this work at pace. That isn't just in respect of the submarines but also in respect of the frigates as well.

One of the programs that is already in action is that at the beginning of this week—it feels like an eternity ago—on Monday morning, the education minister and I, along with the member for Cheltenham, were at Findon High School, turning the first sod on the brand-new technical college being built at the school. At that school, there is a partnership between Findon High and BAE on advanced manufacturing. I would like to thank and acknowledge BAE for engaging with the state government on realising the opportunity that Findon High School presents as a strategic location to help contribute to that workforce effort.

In answer to the member for Morphett's question, the principal focus from the state government's perspective, between the Deputy Premier's department and mine, is to make sure we are doing that workforce development exercise to set ourselves up for the future. There will be (and I am conscious of the time) other works that will need to be undertaken collaboratively between the state government and the commonwealth, particularly around infrastructure at Osborne. That work on preparedness is in train too, but much of that will be informed out of the outcome of the Prime Minister's decision, which we hope is sooner rather than later.