"The Federal Government's announcement today of the build and sustainment partners for Australia's submarine program represents an important milestone in the progression of Australia's nuclear-powered submarine capability and the AUKUS trilateral security partnership," Innes Willox, Chief Executive of the national employer association Ai Group said today.

"This is the largest capability acquisition in our nation's history and the announcement heralds the start of significant opportunities for Australian industry and workers.

"The Government has selected Adelaide-based ASC Pty Ltd and BAE Systems to establish a Joint Venture to build Australia’s SSN AUKUS submarines. ASC has also been chosen for the sustainment of nuclear-powered submarines, starting with the Virginia class, and followed by the SSN-AUKUS.

"This decision confirms Adelaide as the centre for construction of the SSN-AUKUS submarines and represents a significant boost to South Australia's shipbuilding industry and economy.

"The plan for early Australian industry engagement in sustainment activities, including maintenance work on US Virginia class submarines, is a sensible approach that will gradually expand to include Australia's sovereign nuclear-powered submarines.

"Australian industry's early involvement inside the tent in the design phase of the SSN AUKUS is also crucial to developing local capability, and industry must also be meaningfully involved in all of the supporting issues such as infrastructure, workforce, safety and security.

"To meet the ambitious workforce needs, it is important that Defence engages with industry, and the education and training sectors in developing national defence industry workforce planning, including delivering work-based and work-integrated learning opportunities and innovative approaches such as degree apprenticeships.

"Ultimately, the success of the program hinges on having the right people available with the right skills but this needs to be balanced against the skills we need across the economy. We need to mindful that the national economy is facing labour and skills shortages and defence is competing for skills in an increasingly crowded market.

"The development of our local industry is not only important for Australia but also pivotal for building more robust and resilient supply chains for all AUKUS partners, showcasing the strength of the AUKUS trilateral partnership.

"A strong sovereign industrial base is vital for the Australian Defence Force's preparedness and mobilisation. Ai Group looks forward to engaging with the Government to ensure that the opportunities along the supply chain in the Virginia class and now the AUKUS submarine build and sustainment are well understood and addressed," Mr Willox said.

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