Labor blasts government for ASC job cuts

With 223 jobs set to go at ASC by June ahead of the Offshore Patrol Vessel project commencing later this year, the government has come under fire for the job losses during Senate estimates.

ASC and its shareholder, Finance Minister Mathias Cormann, confirmed at Senate estimates that while ASC was awarded nearly $30 million over three years for training scholarships, no money has been used as ASC has not yet received the funds.

ASC representatives said the company is currently working with the Department of Defence on the implementation of the scholarships program and Minister Cormann reiterated the money will be available when the scholarship program commences.

While under questioning from Labor shadow minister for innovation, industry, science and research senator Kim Carr as to why these funds could not be used to help keep workers at the company, Minister Cormann said there was no value in keeping workers on when there are no projects underway.

"As further work comes on stream ... obviously people will be recruited but in the meantime you can’t keep people sitting in a position painting rocks," the Finance Minister said.

Opposition defence spokesman Richard Marles, Senator Carr and shadow assistant minister for defence industry and support Mike Kelly later accused the government of choosing not to save the 223 jobs slated to go at ASC by June this year.

"No workers have been offered retraining or redeployment," a joint statement from Marles, Carr and Kelly said.

"The Liberals also admitted that no cost benefit analysis has been done on the impact of keeping the workers employed compared to letting them go."

The job losses come after the government said last December that the 'valley of death' was over and ASC workers would be saved as the Air Warfare Destroyer project winds down.

"Just last December the Liberals promised that the valley of death was over and that the upturn in shipbuilding employment would continue with 200 jobs secured," Marles, Carr and Kelly said in their joint statement.

"A competent government would have seen this coming. A caring government would have stepped up and prevented the loss of a fifth of ASC’s shipbuilding workforce."

An ASC spokesperson confirmed that it has successfully redeployed at least 55 people from its shipbuilding branch to its submarines branch, reducing the number of people to leave the business. 

ASC's Jim Cuthill also told Senate estimates they are working on minimising job losses through a mixture of redeployment, voluntary redundancies and forced redundancies.

Labor blasts government for ASC job cuts
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