Industry minister Ian Macfarlane has conceded the first
few new submarines may not be built in Australia.
Speaking to ABC’s Radio National yesterday, Macfarlane
said that bidding was very competitive, with local and international firms
competing for the submarines that will replace the current Collins class fleet.
“Let’s see what the competitive
process brings. I can tell you right now, knowing what’s going on, it is very
competitive,” he told the ABC.
“[Australia] may not build the
first few but let’s not rule out, you know there are a lot of submarines to be
built, there’s a lot of work to be done and in terms of the way things are done
in the world today, producing components or putting components together is very
much the modern face of manufacturing.”
This follows defence minister Kevin
Andrews’ admission that a pledge of 500 new ASC jobs did not include building,
and would be in would be in design, testing land-based systems
and software integration.
The Australian Financial Review reports South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill as saying the government’s
plans on submarines were becoming increasingly murky.
“The simplest thing would be for the Prime Minister to
recommit to the promise he made to the Australian people before the election,”
Japan is believed to be the front-runner in the bid to build new submarines. Earlier this month it made the reportedly unprecedented move of handing over classified data to Australian government as part of the “competitive evaluation process”.