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'Perilous position' without warship promise: SA premier

Australia will face an unacceptable amount of risk unless the Commonwealth commits to building warships in South Australia, premier Peter Malinauskas says.



Australia will be put in a "perilous strategic position" if the government does not guarantee the construction of warships in Adelaide.


South Australia Premier Peter Malinauskas has travelled to Canberra with a convoy of shipbuilders and union members in the hopes of securing a federal government guarantee for frigates to be built in his state, as part of a continuous naval shipbuilding program.


Though the Commonwealth has committed to such a scheme, Mr Malinauskas said it needed to begin allocating funds and taking tangible steps.


"Without the delivery of more shipbuilding capability, the Navy simply isn't going to have the equipment they need to be able to project naval power in an increasingly complicated strategic environment in a increasingly contested region," he told reporters on Monday.


If the government wanted to buy these warships, it would have to do so from a nation like the US which is already struggling to meet requests from its neighbours, he said.


According to Mr Malinauskas, the best option is to build the ships at home and SA is the only place in the country with the workforce, skills and infrastructure where this could take place.


"If we want the ships that we need for our navy to keep the country safe at this time, we have to choose to build them at home," he said.


"And in the absence of that decision, we put our nation in a perilous strategic position at the time that we face the greatest risks."


The federal government also needs to commit to building at least six Hunter-class frigates, rather than the promised three.


This way, the shipbuilding program could continue into the late 2030s and would secure thousands of jobs that could otherwise be lost if the scheme was scaled back.


"There is no world where the federal government can honour its commitment to a continuous ship build and not deliver on Hunter (program) in the first instance because Hunter is what gives the capability for the Commonwealth to realise that promise," Mr Malinauskas said.


"Six, nine, 12, 15 (frigates) we are relaxed about just as long as we've got a program and a platform for the continuous shipbuilding that allows the workers army today - but also future generations of people who work on this program - to have confidence into the future."


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