Collins-class submarines HMAS Dechaineux and HMAS Waller on exercise off the Western Australia coast. Picture:
THE man most likely to be Australia’s defence minister in less than six months time has promised 12 new submarines will be built in Adelaide and indicated they will be designed here too.
Federal Opposition defence spokesman David Johnston today said the subs strategy unveiled in a defence white paper released last week by Prime Minister Julia Gillard is “what the Coalition accepts and will deliver”.
The Federal Government’s announcement contains no timelines, but says the new subs fleet will be built in Adelaide from a new design or as an updated version of the ageing Collins-class vessels.
Senator Johnston last week was highly critical of the idea of an evolved Collins.
However, in Adelaide today, he had softened his position.
Defence Minister Stephen Smith, visiting a shipbuilding yard in Adelaide, says the Collins-class submarines could keep operating until 2038.
“We will deliver those submarines from right here at ASC in South Australia,” he said.
“Right across Australia, there is only one place that has all of the expertise that’s necessary to complete one of the most complex, difficult and costly capital works projects that Australian can undertake.
“It’s ASC here in Adelaide. We believe that all of the expertise that is necessary for that project is here.”
SA Opposition Leader Steven Marshall said the announcement was “fantastic news”.
Prime Minister Julia Gillard talks to Vice-Admiral Chris Richie and other official on the deck of a Collins-class submarine as she visits Australian Submarine Corp at North Osborne in South Australia. Picture:
Current polls show the Federal Opposition is likely to claim power on September 14.
Senator Johnston said he accepted the Federal Government was “taking the best available professional and technical advice” and that he would “be picking up … the cudgels for this project as fast as we possibly can”.
“We will have a plan that you can pick over, you can point to, you can see dates, times and money,” he said.
“I accepted the Minister’s down-selected to those two options, the evolved Collins and a new design.
“He’s said that … the military off-the-shelf option and a modified military off the shelf option will be, and he’s used a bit of a weasel word, he said they will be suspended. Now I don’t know what suspended really means.
“If everything that the Minister has said is based on fantasy, we’ll tell you and we’ll revisit this. But at the moment I believe he has accepted the best advice technically and professionally that he can.”
Source – Adelaide Now