The government is preparing to unveil its plan to acquire nuclear submarines

“There’s absolutely a sense of responsibility that the issues we decide, the decisions we make, are going to have a very big impact on the nature of the country for a long time,” he said.

“I’m really confident that we can make decisions in the best interests of the country.”

Marles said he was preparing to announce shortly the submarine model that the government will adopt, as well as an interim solution to avoid a capacity gap ahead of the arrival of locally made boats.

The government would also provide an estimate of the cost of the nuclear submarine program and details of how Australia would meet its nuclear non-proliferation commitments.

“I am confident that we will have answers to all of these questions,” he said. “And I feel good about it.”


With experts predicting that acquiring nuclear-powered submarines will cost at least $100 billion and possibly significantly more, Marles acknowledged the project was a massive undertaking.

“We know this is a very significant procurement,” he said. “This is a very big step that the country is taking. We’re getting a tremendous ability that will change our strategic direction to be taken seriously.”

Marles suggested that the final submarine model would require significant input from both Britain and the US, and dismissed suggestions that Britain might be a small player in the AUKUS pact.

“What really developed in the talks surrounding AUKUS is that it’s a real three-country collaboration,” he said.

“That will now happen on the technological side, which has always been the focus, but also on the industrial side.”

British Defense Secretary Ben Wallace has indicated that the AUKUS nations may consider a future submarine model common to all navies.

“It might have a little bit of the three of us on it, so it might look like a submarine that none of us stock,” Wallace said in September.

Marles and Foreign Secretary Penny Wong will travel to Britain and France next week to meet with their British and French counterparts.


Marles would not specify what proportion of the submarines would be built in Australia. However, with production lines in the US and UK operating at full capacity, he said Osborne Naval Shipyard in Adelaide would play a key role in the project.

“We need to develop industrial capacity in Australia. That’s the only way it can work and that’s what’s expected of us by both the UK and the US,” he said.

“The bottom line here is that making a nuclear submarine is a huge deal. There is no global showroom with these offerings. There is no stock of it.”

Marles said he was ready to make tough decisions – including cuts to proposed military purchases – after the strategic review, which was completed by former Labor Defense Secretary Stephen Smith and former Defense Forces chief Sir Angus Houston. You are to report to Marles in the first week of February.


Noting a significant increase in spending on drones and long-range missiles, Marles said the philosophy underlying the review is that “we need to be able to project and we need to be able to take effect.” project”.

“We work in a context where there is a limited budget,” he said.

“If there weren’t tough decisions to make [strategic review]you would wonder if it is the important document that I think it will be. The government is preparing to unveil its plan to acquire nuclear submarines

Callan Tansill

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