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AUKUS industry, workforce must start immediately, says SA Premier

Constructing AUKUS infrastructure and training a nuclear-competent workforce must start immediately, according to South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.

Constructing AUKUS infrastructure and training a nuclear-competent workforce must start immediately, according to South Australian Premier Peter Malinauskas.

Peter Malinauskas recently returned to Australia after more than three days of high-level briefings on the AUKUS submarine program in the United Kingdom.

He also toured the Barrow-in-Furness submarine shipyard — where the first British AUKUS submarine will be constructed — and BAE Systems’ submarine skills academy during the trip.

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Malinauskas said building nuclear submarines will require a joint effort between defence, cabinet, industry, energy, education, skills and training, transport, housing and planning government agencies.

“The clear message from each and every one of my meetings was that preparing the workforce for the massive undertaking must start immediately,” he said.

“That is why we have already announced a partnership with the Commonwealth to deliver a skills academy, and an additional 800 university places over the next four years.

“I also announced a partnership between the South Australian government and the University of South Australia to deliver software engineering degree apprenticeships, and historic agreements between Flinders University and the universities of Manchester and Rhode Island to begin delivering a comprehensive suite of the world’s best nuclear education in South Australia as early as 2023.”

During the visit, the SA Premier met UK Minister for Defence Procurement Alex Chalk, UK Submarine Delivery Agency chief executive officer Vice Admiral Sir Chris Gardner, and UK shadow ministers for foreign affairs and trade, as well as officials from the UK Ministry of Defence, Nuclear Powered Submarine Taskforce, and Australian Defence officials working on the AUKUS agreement and Nuclear Industry Association.

He also met with industry representatives from BAE Systems, Rolls-Royce, Babcock International, Thales, and the University of Manchester’s Dalton Nuclear Institute.

The SA Premier’s visit coincides with public opposition against AUKUS from the People’s Republic of China Ministry of National Defense, in a statement published on 30 March.

“China firmly opposes the establishment of the so-called Trilateral Security Partnership among the US, the UK and Australia,” said Senior Colonel Tan Kefei.

“China urges the relevant countries to recognise the development trend of the times, abandon the selfish ideas that undermine the interests of others, listen to the voices of the international community with an open mind, earnestly fulfil their international responsibilities and obligations, and contribute more to regional peace and stability.”

Senior Colonel Tan Kefei said the nuclear submarine cooperation among the three countries brings the first transfer of nuclear-submarine power reactors and weapon-grade highly-enriched uranium from nuclear-weapon states to a non-nuclear-weapon state in history.

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