SYDNEY – Australia’s Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said on Saturday that South Australia state would be a “big beneficiary” of the landmark AUKUS defence pact, which is expected to see Australia buy up to five U.S. Virginia class nuclear powered submarines.
Reuters, citing four U.S. officials, reported this week that Australia would likely buy the submarines in the 2030s as part of the agreement between Washington, Canberra and London, in what would present a new challenge to China’s military build-up.
Albanese’s federal government has indicated construction would be in South Australia’s capital Adelaide, but state premier Peter Malinauskas said this week he was unclear about the number of orders.
On Saturday, Albanese, when asked how many submarines would be built in Australia as part of AUKUS, said an announcement would be made on Monday.
“This is about jobs, including jobs in manufacturing, and Adelaide in particular will be a big beneficiary of this announcement as will Western Australia,” he said in a TV broadcast from New Delhi, India, where he is on a visit.
Albanese will leave India later on Saturday and go to the United States to meet U.S. President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Rishi Sunak for talks on AUKUS.
“When you talk about the issue of manufacturing submarines in Australia, that’s an absolute priority for us,” Albanese added.
Adelaide was chosen as the site in 2016 when France won a A$50 billion ($33 billion) deal to build 12 submarines for Australia before Canberra scrapped that in favour of AUKUS, causing outrage in Paris.
AUKUS is expected to be Australia’s largest-ever defence project and offers the prospect of jobs in all three countries.
China “firmly objects” to AUKUS, its foreign ministry said this month.