Shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie has declared Australia should buy submarines “off the shelf” from the United States or United Kingdom in addition to securing the nuclear-propelled boats through AUKUS amid the growing threat of war in the Pacific.
As part of the AUKUS pact, Australia will acquire eight nuclear-powered submarines to replace the retiring Collins Class boats.
However, initial predictions indicate the submarines will be delivered in the 2040s.
Mr Hastie told Peter Stefanovic in Sky News Australia’s documentary Are We Ready For War? that Australia should be buy submarines off the shelf now as well as securing those boats through the AUKUS deal.
“I think subs off the shelf should be part of the plan, in fact we should be doing it concurrently,” Mr Hastie said in the exclusive interview which aired on Wednesday night.
“My view is that we should be building our industrial capacity here and we should also be seeking to get two boats off a production line out of the US if not the US then the UK.”
Defence Minister Richard Marles said in early February that an announcement would be made in the coming weeks about the progression of the nuclear submarine program.
“It really does involve all three countries making significant efforts to step up to the plate to make this occur,” Mr Marles previously told ABC News Breakfast.
Mr Marles has also earlier dismissed concerns over the timeline to deliver the nuclear-propelled boats.
When asked by Stefanovic if he thought it was important that AUKUS proceeded as planned, Mr Hastie said it was “critical”.
“I think we’d lose a massive amount of face if we didn’t proceed with AUKUS but it’s not about face, it’s actually about capability,” he said.
“Nuclear submarines will provide that in addition to our surface fleet.”
He added the three-nation pact would also integrate Australia “more closely” with the United Kingdom and United States.
The leaders of AUKUS made a joint statement in September to mark the one-year anniversary of the trilateral partnership announcement, declaring it has made “significant progress” in the last 12 months to acquire submarines Down Under.
Stefanovic asked Mr Hastie if he thought Australia was ready for war.
“I don’t think we are,” Mr Hastie replied.
Source : Sky News