17 September 2021

Labor has been calling for deeper partnerships with allied and aligned nations, and to build a region which is stable, prosperous and respectful of sovereignty. We look forward to strengthened cooperation with our close allies.


We see this partnership as being in addition to the much deeper engagement that is needed with the countries of our region, including ASEAN members.


The first initiative under AUKUS is for Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarine technology.


We accept that this technology is now the best option for Australia’s capability.


Labor has three conditions for the support of nuclear-powered submarines, which we have sought assurance on. Firstly, that there be no requirement of a domestic civil nuclear industry. Secondly, that there be no acquisition of nuclear weapons. And, thirdly, that this agreement would be compatible with the non-proliferation treaty.


The Government has made clear these conditions can be met. We will hold them to these commitments.


It is critical that both parties of government work together to secure the path forward. Labor will be seeking deeper consultation, including proposing a joint structure going forward.


We will seek further details about opportunities offered by this partnership, including for enhanced domestic technology capabilities through increased co-operation and information sharing.


Labor also remains committed to ensuring that defence procurement agreements lead to more jobs in Australia, and build skills and expertise in our homegrown workforce.


Getting the men and women of the ADF the best possible equipment, on time and on budget, is essential, which is why eight long years of mismanagement of defence procurement has been so troubling.


While there is much that we welcome, it’s also clear that this announcement is the single biggest admission of failure on the part of the Morrison-Joyce Government over its $90 billion Future Submarines program. A program that is running 10 years late from its original schedule and $40 billion over budget.


Eight years into this program and after three separate deals, Mr Morrison is now starting from scratch.


The Government must be transparent about how much money has been burnt in the process and what this means for Australian jobs and businesses.