Submarine decision should be delayed, says ex-defence official

The former defence official in charge of procurement for the navy has urged the Government to delay its decision on who will build Australia’s new submarines.

Former Defence Materiel Organisation (DMO) boss Warren King told the Australian the bidders, Japan, France and Germany will need more time to properly organise their respective bids.

“It seems improbable to me that nine months is sufficient to fully analyse all of the issues such as capability, cost, sustainment,” King said at the Royal Australian Navy’s Seapower Conference in Sydney.

“Before you make your final decision, you need to know more. I would say another 12 months is needed. You would have a much better understanding of what the final design will be and what capabilities it will have and about how to maximise Australian industry content.”

King was DMO boss until February and, in his time at that organisation, was in charge of the Future Submarine project.

He told the ABC Australia would not be capable of building the first of the subs.

"My thought on this would be to start the build, most likely with the first one or two submarines being built in an experienced yard that's currently building submarines," he said.

King’s comments were dismissed by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill, who pointed out that any delays would also delay ship building jobs in his state.

"I think most of the concerns are it's happening too slowly so we would urge the Commonwealth to get on with it," Weatherill told the ABC.

"It would be so much easier if they ruled out the overseas build, the hybrid build and just focused on the local build.

"That would simplify the process and hopefully make it a speedier process."