Australia joins ‘nuclear sub exclusive club’ during PM’s UK tour
Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese has been welcomed to the “exclusive club of countries with nuclear-powered submarines” while touring submarine shipyards in the United Kingdom.
Prime Minister Albanese toured the UK from 2 to 6 May to represent Australia at the Coronation of His Majesty The King and Her Majesty The Queen Consort.
He was joined by the governor-general, state governors, and national representatives including Australian flag bearer and Australian professional soccer player Sam Kerr.
During the UK tour, the Prime Minister travelled to the Barrow-in-Furness shipyard on 4 May, where the first British SSN-AUKUS submarine will be built.
“I expect that there will be ongoing delegations of Australians here to Barrow to look at these facilities and to learn the implications for the development that Australia will have,” he said.
“The AUKUS arrangements are about our national security, and about our common interests between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States to uphold the international rule of law, to cooperate in both the development of nuclear-powered submarines for Australia, but also with other technological cooperation with the engagement as a part of AUKUS phase two going forward.”
The numbers of local people and apprentices working at the shipyard in secure, well-paid employment is a key consideration taken away from the tour, according to Prime Minister Albanese.
“It’s about jobs and economic prosperity. Here in Barrow, it is a great example of people who live very close to these facilities, who are in secure, well-paid jobs for their lifetime.
“It’s about the extraordinary number of apprentices who are being employed here, to learn those skills. And I want those opportunities to be held in Australia.
“We regard the development of an advanced, highly sophisticated manufacturing capability in Australia as having implications not just for our defence, but for other industries as well.
“I see this as being very similar to what the car industry provided for Australia in the post-war period. An industry that created jobs and security for communities during decades, but also had indirect spin-offs in other industries.
“I am very much looking forward to Australia having our own state-of-the-art submarine shipyard there at Osborne. What that will require, as well, is a massive upskilling of our workforce.
“We’ve already got an MoU with South Australia about providing those facilities, about making sure that people get not just through TAFE and the blue-collar work that will be required, but also through universities.
“I think there’ll be some exchange from the UK to Australia as part of this, that we want to go forward with our common interest.”
The workers who will design, build and operate our nuclear-powered submarines are vital to the success of AUKUS.
Here in Barrow-in-Furness in the UK, I had the chance to meet with some of the apprentices and workers who will build the first SSN-AUKUS submarine. pic.twitter.com/TGZd88j7Pa
— Anthony Albanese (@AlboMP) May 3, 2023
UK Secretary of State for Defence Ben Wallace, who toured the facility with the Australian Prime Minister, said the shipyard is a special place and world leader in the manufacturing of some of the most advanced engineering on the planet.
“We not only make here our attack submarines, we also make our nuclear bombers. It’s extremely complex engineering, bringing together thousands of people to create engineering and share technology,” he said.
“Seventy years ago, plus one month, our first nuclear submarine, HMS Dreadnought, left this place and went into service with the Royal Navy.
“It’s an exclusive club, nuclear-powered submarines, that give us strategic capability that only five nations on earth currently have. I am delighted Australia joining that club.”
“(Australia has) joined an exclusive club, that in theory, it could send the submarines under the water around the world. It doesn’t just have to be in the Pacific.”
Defence Secretary Wallace said Royal Navy and Royal Australian Navy will be working in a joint effort to design a submarine for the benefit of both countries.
“There are huge opportunity for Australians and Australian jobs. There will be Australian hands making submarines in Barrow. And those hands will go back to Australia and make submarines in Australia,” he said.
“Eleven thousand workers here, growing towards 17,000; that’s the big endeavour. That endeavour will be replicated in jobs and opportunities for Australians.
“I hope to see more and more interchanges between people from here and Cumbria, to Australia, and vice versa.
“We’re going to design these submarines to deliver payloads, a step change from what they currently deliver. They are going to be able to do a huge range of stuff, some of it very secret, some of that very traditional strike capabilities (torpedoes).
“I’m confident we are going to see some really great job opportunities growing in Australia. My only fear is that you come over here to sign up all our people.”
Prime Minister Albanese also commented on the confinement of Australian activist Julian Assange.
“My position has not changed from the time I was Labor leader and as the Prime Minister of Australia, that I believe enough is enough. It is time that this issue be brought to a conclusion,” he said.
During the tour, Prime Minister Albanese was also quizzed on his position as third (out of 22 countries) on the global leader approval rating poll produced by Morning Consult Political Intelligence.
He was also made aware of comments by Prime Minister of Canada Justin Trudeau regarding the naming of Prime Minister Albanese as one of TIME Magazine’s “The 100 Most Influential People of 2023” list.
“Progressives around the world are united in the idea that we should leave no one behind. The idea that no matter who you are or where you come from, you should have every chance to succeed in life. Few politicians embody that journey as Anthony Albanese does,” Prime Minister Trudeau said.
“From growing up in public housing to taking office last spring as Australia’s new prime minister, he is a symbol of hope and inspiration. He works to lift up and amplify the voices of those who need to be heard from, particularly Indigenous peoples.
“His government supports those who need it most, believes that we need to take ambitious climate action, and unwaveringly supports democracy in the face of unprecedented threat.
“In a world where people are increasingly uncertain about what the future holds for them and their families, it’s easy for politicians to sow fear and division.
“To choose the path of hope and opportunity takes immense courage, and that courage lives within Anthony Albanese.”