The Subs: A Bipartisan Opinion

  1. 141 Posts.
    In my view, the issue of the subs is a very important one for our country and should transcend politics.  Having said that, I need to make a political reference that the Rudd / Gillard Govt dropped the ball.  They avoided making a decision for years and that was reprehensible. So here we are now, an important decision needs to be made - in-source or out-source? And it needs to be made now.

    There are strong arguments both ways.  A sovereign country needs to possess infrastructure and skills capabilities to ensure it can continue to exist in the face of real or potential external threats.  WWII saw Aust scrambling to scale up nascent arms manufacturing, ship building, aeroplane production and assembly.  Motor vehicles too.  The threat was real.  Sea lanes were disrupted and vulnerable.  Post WWII, the GM / Holden tie up was as much about developing and extending what was seen as a core strategic capability as a job creation, skills creation exercise.

    Today, or more truthfully, the past 40 or 50 years, the capability to build submarines is exactly the same.  So, do we rely on internally generated skills, the tooling, the schooling, the drafting, the manufacturing, for Long Term Strategic reasons, to protect, develop and enhance an Australian capability?

    Or do we take the purely economic decision? Buy what is cheapest, best value, maybe even best quality?  Do Free Trade Agreements trump Development of Strategic Capabilities? If so, they shouldn't.

    To my way of thinking, it's not just about the maths. It should also NOT be a decision that is bandied about casually as a part of political promises.  Our politicians, all of them, have a responsibility to the future of our Australia to make a very long-term decision that will help ensure our continued sovereignty.

    The decision should try to take into account, and place a value on having a skilled labour force available for sub building and maintenance, having TAFEs and Unis that teach the necessary skills, the additional downstream suppliers for the subs, and if / when they build an excellent product, a potential export market.
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