CANBERRA, AAP – A study will be carried out by the federal government on what infrastructure would be needed on the country’s west coast to support American and British nuclear submarines as part of the AUKUS pact.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the study would be conducted by the department of defence to determine what extra services would be needed to support the nuclear vessels.
“We expect the results of that work to come back later this year, and to get moving as quickly as possible,” he told reporters in Perth on Tuesday.
“The ability of US and UK nuclear-powered submarines to be here on the west coast … is all part of what our plan is as we continue to push forward our AUKUS partnership.”
The government has already committed to building a new nuclear-submarine base on Australia’s east coast, with a final location set to be announced after the election.
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It comes as the coalition announced it would commit $4.3 billion for a new dry dock facility in Perth’s south, ahead of the upcoming federal budget.
It’s expected the project would support 2000 direct jobs when it’s built, and 500 during the peak of construction.
It will be the country’s second dry dock used to build and maintain large ships.
The prime minister said construction was expected to start in 2023.
“This work will ensure we can maintain our sovereignty, our flexibility and offer long-term value for money outcomes for the Australian public,” he said.
“The integration between what happens on our west coast and our east coast is incredibly important for how we defend our nation.”
Mr Morrison remained tight-lipped on whether a cut in the fuel excise was being considered for the federal budget, as petrol prices soar above $2 a litre at the bowser.
He said the government was conscious of the fact rising petrol prices were impacting on the cost of living.
“All Australians understand that is being caused by the terrible war we are seeing in Europe and the invasion of Russia into Ukraine,” he said.
He also declined to state whether a cut in the excise on beer was also being a considered as a budget measure.
Labor frontbencher Jason Clare said cost of living pressures were present before Russia invaded Ukraine.
“Childcare has jumped by $800 a year … rent has jumped by $2000 a year,” he said.
“Suddenly you’ve got the government working out that people are struggling, 50 days before people start to vote.”