Defence tenders waiting on Kevin Andrews

Defence tenders to the value of $30.4 billion are being
delayed as the new Defence Minister Kevin Andrews familiarises himself with his
portfolio.

According to Dow Jones Newswires, unnamed defence officials say the delays are affecting
the plans to build Australia’s new submarine fleet as well as projects for
new armoured vehicles for the army.

In a wider cabinet reshuffle before Christmas, Kevin Andrews (pictured) took over the Defence portfolio from David Johnston.

While Johnston had been under intense pressure for, among things, saying he
wouldn’t trust the Australian Submarine Corporation to ‘build a cone’, he had plenty of experience in military affairs and was up to date on the latest defence issues.

In contrast, Andrews has little experience with defence
matters. And, according to Executive Director of the Australian Defence
Association Neil James, he previously remarked that he had “no interest” in defence issues.

The tender for military vehicles was planned to begin in
mid-January. It will include combat-reconnaissance trucks as well armoured
troop transports for its Land 400 project.

Bidders for the project include US giant Lockheed Martin, French
manufacturer Thales, British manufacturer BAE and Germany’s Rheinmetall AG.

The submarine tender has caused controversy on the grounds
that, contrary to a pre-election commitment, the government is expected to
award the building work to a foreign submarine maker. Japan is reportedly the favourite, but German and French companies have all shown interest.

Apart from becoming involved in defence tender decisions,
Andrews needs to work on defining Australia’s new strategic priorities in a
region where China is asserting itself more forcefully. 

Image: www.liberal.org.au