Finally, the government has seen some sense and abandoned the appalling French submarine contract.
It was the worst defence deal in the history of the country (and that is a high benchmark), arranged by what many consider to be the worst defence and prime ministers ever.
Christopher Pyne and Malcolm Turnbull did the country a disservice and it has cost us years and billions of dollars. However, the price to get out of it is worth it.
The government have announced a deal on nuclear submarines in concert with the US and the UK. It’s a good move and the start of what I hope is a nuclear industry here in Australia.
That will take bipartisan support but a nuclear subs deal is a good start and given the need, it will be very difficult for Labor to put up too much resistance.
We do need nuclear submarines but we need diesel/electric ones too.
They fulfil different roles in our defence and surveillance capability.
The diesel subs are good for shallow water quick missions. When running in electric mode, they have little heat signature and are quite fast over relatively short distances before they need to resurface.
In this respect, they’re ideal for use in the shallow South China Sea for deployment of special forces and similar stealth missions.
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A nuclear sub is a different beast.
They can remain submerged almost indefinitely and are ideal as long-term surveillance or tactical battle craft. However, they do their best work in deep water, where the heat signature can be dispersed effectively to make them very hard to detect.
That’s why Australia needs both. It’s also why the original decision of Pyne and Turnbull was such a bad one.
The original plan under the Abbott government was to purchase some diesel/electric submarines from Japan or Germany, which could be built in Australia at a reasonable cost.
This would have enabled future nuclear submarines to have been procured later while also ensuring our defence requirements were met in a timely and effective manner.
This proposal was torpedoed by a Turnbull-supporting former senator from South Australia (Sean Edwards), who claimed he wanted a ‘competitive tender’.
I suspect it was more about making political problems for Abbott.
This resulted in delays and when eventually Turnbull became PM, he signed the French deal.
It was hastily announced to save Pyne’s seat at a cost of tens of billions of dollars and a dud submarine deal with the French.
Many would say they jeopardised Australia’s national defence in the process of propping up a marginal seat.
It was (and is) a national disgrace, and is compounded by the defence ‘consultancy’ pursued by Pyne immediately after leaving politics.
While the government deserves credit for this important development, it’s independent senator for South Australia, Rex Patrick, who deserves applause.
As a former submariner, he has relentlessly pursued the idiocy of the French contract for years, and exposed just how bad it was for Australia.
The subs saga has demonstrated the best and worst of politics.
The worst being the shameless misuse of our defence needs for political purposes, and the best being the relentless exposure of it by those who truly care about the country.
Enjoy your weekend.
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