Prime Minister Tony Abbott has assured South Australians there will be more submarine jobs here even if he won’t commit to having a new fleet of vessels built there, as Liberal MPs fear voter backlash if the contract for Australia’s next-generation fleet goes to Japan.
"Whatever happens, I can give an absolute, categoric guarantee there will be more sub jobs in South Australia and I think that's what South Australians understandably want," he said in response to to reports some Liberal MPs are concerned about a voter backlash if the contract for Australia's next generation fleet goes to Japan.
Opposition frontbencher Brendan O’Connor claimed Abbott had already done a secret deal with Japan.
A competitive evaluation process is under way for the contract, which could also be given to France or Germany. The process would deliver the best submarines at a fair and reasonable price, he said.
The 4200 tonne Japanese Soryu class submarine, German firm TKMS's Type 216 and French firm DCNS' non-nuclear version of its 4700 tonne Barracuda submarine are being examined as part of the ten month competitive evaluation process.
Liberal MPs say they fear several of their federal seats in South Australia could be at risk if the Government gives Japan the contract for the next fleet of submarines. With the state still reeling from the loss of thousands of car manufacturing jobs, employment remains a hot button political issue.