Concerns over joint-crewing on Australia’s future nuclear-powered submarines are “over-hyped” with the AUKUS partnership to be “transformational” for the nation’s workers.
US Congressman Joe Courtney, co-chair of Washington’s “AUKUS Caucus” said the announcement on Monday, US local time, was going to be a “very thoughtful product”.
“It’s going to be a transformational enterprise for working people in Australia,” he told ABC’s Insiders on Sunday.
“Everybody’s going to be sort of contributing to each other’s needs.”
Mr Courtney said concerns over joint-crewing were “over-hyped,” saying once the boats were handed over, the submarines would be under “Australian control”.
“Everyone understands we need to train up the Australian sailors and officers in terms of nuclear propulsion,” he said.
Asked if Australia would get second-hand submarines or brand new ones, Mr Courtney reassured that the country would get the “highest quality”.
“No one’s gonna be foisting off clunkers to good friends and allies,” he said.
Port Kembla in NSW, has emerged as Defence’s preferred location for a new east-coast submarine base, according to the ABC.
It is reportedly favoured because of its deep ocean approaches and surrounding infrastructure.
Prime Minister Anthony Albanese left India on Saturday for the United States, where he will join President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak in San Diego on Monday for the landmark statement.
The three countries first announced the AUKUS plan in 2021 as part of efforts to counter China in the Indo-Pacific region, with the US and United Kingdom agreeing to provide Australia with the capability to deploy nuclear-powered submarines.
Australia is expected to buy up to five US Virginia class nuclear-powered submarines.
It has been speculated there will be multiple stages to the plan, with at least one US submarine visiting Australian ports in the coming years and the advent of a new class of submarines built with British designs and American technology.
On Saturday, Mr Albanese said the project was also about Australian jobs, particularly shipyard and manufacturing work in South Australia and Western Australia.
Asked also about the enormous cost, Mr Albanese said he would explain to the Australian people why it was worthwhile given the deficit hole in the national budget.
“Yes, we will,” he said in New Delhi before departing for the US.
“Australia faces real challenges. We have said very clearly and explicitly that there are major pressures on expenditure, not just in defence, but in other areas as well.”
In the lead-up to the 2023/24 budget release in May, Mr Albanese reiterated the government needed to be prepared to “make some difficult decisions”.
Mr Albanese last week rejected China’s criticism of the submarine plans, saying Australia could boost its military power while improving relations with Beijing as well as its relationships with other countries in the Indo-Pacific.
“It’s a consistent position, we need to ensure that Australia’s defence assets are the best they can be,” he said.
Mr Albanese will also discuss with Mr Biden and Mr Sunak Russia’s war against Ukraine, climate change action and global economic challenges including inflation and energy prices.
Source : Mandurah Mail