The submarines we don't need, can't afford and don't work. Your TAX dollars again.

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    The latest revelations about Australia’s bedevilled new submarine contract highlight judgement calls made by former prime ministers Tony Abbott and Malcolm Turnbull that have enormous repercussions for Australia’s defence for decades to come. When Tony Abbott was Prime Minister he decided to push for an ambitious and historic plan to build a submarine partnership with Japan, both to assist Japan in its efforts to bolster its military capacity and to ensure regional security.

    However, under pressure from South Australians, the then Abbott government widened its tender process to replace Australia’s Collins Class submarine to include French and German contractors.

    Subsequently, the Turnbull government awarded the contract to build Australia’s new submarine fleet to the French – a decision that is proving a mistake of monumental proportions.

    The Attack Class submarine project – the largest defence acquisition project in Australia’s history – is in deep trouble, with revelations that the program’s viability has been questioned to the extent that it should be ditched entirely and the tender be started over again.

    A damning Australian National Audit Office report last month raised a number of questions about the French consortium’s ability to complete the project that is aimed at replacing the Australian Navy’s 12 ageing Collins Class submarines, which itself was a shockingly poor procurement project and a money pit for the Australian taxpayer.

    But problems with the Collins Class submarines pale into insignificance compared with the latest project, which is expected to cost $80 billion but which could cost much more before it is completed – if it ever is.

    So bad has the project been that the Naval Shipbuilding Advisory Board has warned Defence top brass that they should consider walking away from the project.

    Mr Turnbull signed off on the contract with French shipbuilder Naval Group, and one wonders how much the decision was influenced by doing the opposite of what his predecessor wanted to do.
    “On all three measures of this program — on time of delivery, on the cost of the project, and on the amount of the Australian content — the numbers are all going the wrong way,” he said.

    Centre Alliance Senator Rex Patrick, who served in the Navy himself, said the ANAO report was “one of the most concerning reports I have ever seen”.

    “The alarm bells are ringing. If the minister is not hearing them, they need to be turned up,” Senator Patrick said. “Defence’s view that they can recover the schedule is naive at best.”

    The enmity between Mr Abbott and Mr Turnbull has been a strain and dysfunction on federal politics for many years, but the submarine debacle shows that its effects extend to Australia’s future defence capability in the decades ahead.

    In this case, Mr Abbott’s deeply symbolic and geopolitical vision for an Australian-Japanese submarine project may prove to have been the correct one.

    Politicians, the greatest blight on humanity that has ever been.
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