Australian Politics – Buying Submarines From The Fickle French Is A Huge And Expensive Gamble

Posted on Mon 05/02/2016 by

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Bolt New 01By Andrew Bolt ~

Christopher Joyce on the Turnbull Government’s astonishingly expensive subs – making the same critical point that I’ve made in today’s column:

With another bloated budget looming … that could further undermine Australia’s AAA credit rating, it is opportune to reflect on the integrity of the Turnbull government’s bold decision to punt $50 billion on building 12 French submarine “concepts” that have yet to be designed, produced or proven in the water…

Photo: A Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A pre-concept design released as part of the DCNS pitch. (Supplied: DCNS)

Photo: A Shortfin Barracuda Block 1A pre-concept design released as part of the DCNS pitch. (Supplied: DCNS)

A conservative reckoning is that the subs’ total lifetime costs could be 50 per cent to 100 per cent of the upfront investment, making this the biggest public works program in Australian history. A veritable underwater NBN…

Some commentators applauded the Turnbull government’s decision to select a French vessel based on “capability” and for ignoring “strategic” considerations.  Yet that logic is silly. You cannot divorce capability and strategy when it comes to insanely complex $50 billion-plus platforms…

The value of the subs will be heavily affected by the strategic durability of the supply chains servicing them and there is a compelling case that the Japanese have a much greater incentive to support this capability than the notoriously fickle French… The US was not supportive of this choice precisely because France is not considered a trusted military partner by any member of the “five eyes” Western alliance – encompassing Australia, New Zealand, Canada, the US and the UK…

The third fact is that what defence expert Jane’s described as the Turnbull government’s strategically surprising decision has deeply embarrassed Japan and damaged our relations with what the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade says is Australia’s “closest and most mature” partnership in Asia…

[T]he stand-out winner is China, which repeatedly threatened that there would be adverse consequences if we went with the Japanese.

Mark Di Stefano:

Laurie Oakes has mercilessly attacked the government’s “live within our means” slogan during his traditional pre-budget interview with the treasurer, pointing to the recent decision to … buy $50 billion worth of French submarines last week.

“Why pick the vastly more expensive one?” asked Oakes, referring to the fact the government gave the contract to French submarine maker DCNS, rather than spend nearly half as much with the German company Thyssenkrupp Marine Systems.

The exchange went back and forth more than 30 times, with Oakes repeating that the German bid would have been at least $15 billion cheaper:

Oakes: “Would the Germans not have provided the high tech jobs?”

Morrison: “If it was the best bid Laurie.”

Oakes: “You’re paying nearly twice as much!”

Morrison: “That’s not true.”

Oakes: “Where are we living within our means?”…

Oakes said his sources have indicated that they’re “bamboozled” by the decision to go with the more expensive bid, because the German design would have delivered the same high-tech jobs in Australia.

Andrew Bolt writes for the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph, and The Advertiser and runs Australia’s most-read political blog. On week nights he hosts The Bolt Report on Sky News at 7pm and his Macquarie Radio show at 8pm with Steve Price.

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