FEDERAL Opposition leader Bill Shorten says the government should commit to building more Navy ships in Australia, saying an effective shipbuilding industry was needed for the nation’s security.
Speaking with the Newcastle Herald on Thursday before a range of meetings with industry and training groups, Mr Shorten likened problems with Australian shipbuilding to losses by the Australian cricket team.
‘‘Just because you lost the Ashes you don’t cancel cricket in Australia,’’ Mr Shorten said in response to a recent audit of the Navy’s air warfare destroyer construction program, which had blown out by at least $300 million.
Newcastle’s Forgacs is one of the companies involved in the destroyer contract, building about one third of the hull ‘‘blocks’’ that are assembled in Adelaide to build the fleet.
Mr Shorten is meeting vocational training company NovaSkill on Thursday morning and will be part of a ‘‘defence round table’’ meeting with HunterNet and other industrial players at the office of Newcastle MP Sharon Claydon.
He meets Forgacs workers at the company’s Tomago shipyard on Thursday afternoon.
On other matters, Mr Shorten said Labor would co-operate with the government’s Royal Commission into union slush funds.
On a day when the Sydney Morning Herald carried a front-page story headed ‘‘Shorten’ union links to be scrutinised’’, Mr Shorten said it was obvious there were ‘‘bad applies’’ in the union movement.
‘‘But I haven’t given up on Australian corporate life because of Storm Financial or Westpoint or because of business shenanigans,’’ Mr Shorten said.
He accepted that the ALP needed to reform its operations and broaden its appeal and foreshadowed major announcements on this subject in the weeks ahead.