Defence industry insiders have warned Kevin Rudd’s latest naval policy could cost thousands of South Australian jobs, but Premier Jay Weatherill has dismissed the claims as hysteria.
The Prime Minister today announced plans for the Sydney naval base to be moved further north to Brisbane - at an estimated cost of $6 billion.
Alarm bells rang with New South Wales Premier Barry O’Farrell, who confronted Mr Rudd in front of media, before a chorus of concern began further south.
“Extracting that $6 billion will mean the loss of thousands of jobs here in South Australia,” Chris Burns from the SA Defence Teaming Centre said.
The centre said many local businesses are already starved of work.
That is expected to worsen after the last air warfare destroyer is built as Osbourne in 2016, and before the new submarine program starts next decade.
“It is going to have an impact on South Australia – it has to – there is only so much in the defence dollar,” Liberal MP Christopher Pyne said.
State Opposition leader Steven Marshall also condemned the proposal.
“It’s a devastating announcement in regards to jobs here in South Australia,” he said.
But Premier Jay Weatherill said the Liberals are being hysterical, claiming new funding will be set aside for shifting resources.
“If you’re moving the shipyard from one place to another, obviously new money needs to be spent in a new place,” Mr Weatherill said.
SA Defence Industries Minister Jack Snelling said: “On the surface of it, I don’t think it necessarily affects us that much.”
Mr Weatherill said he was given reassurances from Mr Rudd’s office and even hinted towards imminent good news for the state.