AUKUS is the biggest development to Australia’s national security since the signing of the ANZUS Treaty, seventy years ago.
This agreement—which will see us build nuclear submarines for the Royal Australian Navy—was an initiative of the Prime Minister himself, in the pursuit of our national security interests.
It was a sensitive, high-stakes deal worked out at the highest levels of government between Australia, the United Kingdom, and the United States.
These submarines are going to be crucial to Australian naval power in the 21st century, maintaining stability across the region, and keeping our people safe.
But what is less understood is the game-changing impact that AUKUS is going to have on Western Australia.
As the home of the RAN’s submarine fleet, HMAS Stirling on Garden Island will be the home of our future nuclear submarines, as it is now for the Collins class. Our geography makes us the natural choice for our submariners to carry out their important missions.
The arrival of nuclear submarines will require significant investment to uplift the base at Stirling.
That’s why the Morrison Government is spending $1 billion at HMAS Stirling to extend wharfs, upgrade piers, build more berths, and improve support and training infrastructure. That’s $1 billion into the WA economy, which will create more skilled industry jobs.
We are also going to need people with new skills, training, and expertise to sustain these nuclear submarines.
The implications for education, investment, and employment in WA in the years to come are significant and exciting.
But AUKUS is more than just submarines. It is a framework for greater defence cooperation, information sharing, and industrial collaboration.
We can expect to see more major allied naval vessels coming alongside in Perth, as they use our shores for resupply, sustainment, training, and logistical support.
AUKUS is also a vote of confidence in WA ship building, and the vital role our local industry has in safeguarding Australia’s sovereignty.
The Morrison Government is going to invest in a Large Vessel Dry Berth (LVDB) in Perth. This will be used to build and maintain major ships, both civilian and military.
Right now, there is only one other LVDB in Australia, in Sydney. It has been in service since the Second World War when it was used to repair American aircraft carriers.
Becoming home to Australia’s second LVDB will be generation-defining for Perth. The opportunities it will create for our growing naval ship building industry are immense.
All this builds on the naval ship building already happening right now in WA.
I recently had the opportunity of visiting the impressive Civmec facility in Henderson (pictured below), where Luerssen Australia are currently building the third and fourth of ten Arafura Class Offshore Patrol Vessels for the RAN, an investment of approximately $3.9 billion.
Over 50 vessels are being constructed or upgraded in WA under the Morrison Government. This is guaranteeing thousands of WA defence industry jobs now and into the future.
Our ship building program is in stark contrast to the Rudd-Gillard-Rudd era.
Under Labor, not a single naval ship was commissioned, defence spending fell to the lowest level since 1938, and defence industry shed 10% of its workforce.
WA industry is now punching above its weight to help provide the capability needed to protect Australia and guarantee stability in our region.
The next 18 months are critical for the nuclear submarine program. We will need a strong government making tough calls in the national interest.
Ultimately AUKUS is not just about our present circumstances, it will also protect the next generation of Australians.
AUKUS will strengthen Australia’s resilience and sovereignty. WA is going to play a critical role in our national defence strategy.