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Trump puts thousands of Australian jobs at risk with F-35 jet threat

Australian Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said in May the program had already created almost 2400 local jobs.

In an interview with Fox News, Mr Trump slammed the decision to spread manufacturing of the F-35 among US allies as “crazy”, suggesting he would bring all the work back onshore.

“As an example, we’re making a fighter jet. It’s a certain fighter jet, I won’t tell you which, but it happens to be the F-35,” he said.

“It’s a great jet, and we make parts for this jet all over the world. We make them in Turkey, we make them here, we’re going to make them there. All because president [Barack] Obama and others – I’m not just blaming him – thought it was a wonderful thing.

“The problem is, if we have a problem with a country, you can’t make the jet. We get parts from all over the place. It’s so crazy. We should make everything in the United States.”

Asked about the US President’s comments, Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison said the government would “see what occurs there as it rolls out”.

“But we have our contracts and arrangements in place for all of those matters, so we’ll continue
to pursue them in the normal way,” Mr Morrison said.

Opposition defence spokesman Richard Marles said the government should be working around the clock to ensure the contracts with Australian defence companies were secure.

“These Defence contracts are vital to Australian jobs and Australian companies,” he said.

“There is obvious anxiety at the moment for Australian workers and their families, with the latest workforce figures showing that nearly 600,000 Australians lost their jobs in April, so jobs and job certainty is vital right now.”

Marcus Hellyer, a senior analyst with the Australian Strategic Policy Institute, said US allies – particularly in Europe – would stop ordering the aircraft if Mr Trump followed through on his threat.

“If Trump did that, then a lot of the partners would also bail on the program and say: ‘Hang on you’ve changed the deal,’ ” he said.

“It’s not going to win any friends in Australia, and Australia among all of the allies are the most committed, that would actually have an impact on US industry and US jobs because Lockheed Martin would be selling less planes. Hopefully wiser counsel will prevail.”

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