PRIME Minister Tony Abbott has dismissed a Labor plan to replace Australia’s ageing submarine fleet, warning the nation could be left without any operational vessels.He also reminded Labor it had six years in government from late 2007 to make a decision about replacing the Collins class fleet.
During that time it did not place a single naval shipbuilding order with an Australian shipyard.
“But three orders went overseas,” Mr Abbott told parliament on Wednesday.
Under Labor’s plan, there would be an open tender process involving submarine builders from France, Germany, Japan and Sweden with the winning vessel chosen by the end of 2016 and constructed in Australia.
The government’s competitive acquisition process involves France, Germany and Japan with a decision made by the end of 2015.
Subs could be built overseas or in Australia.
“The consequence of further delay would be that Australia would have no operational submarines towards the end of the next decade when the Collins class submarines go out of service,” Mr Abbott said.
Defence Minister Kevin Andrews said that would place Australia’s security at risk.
“We are not going to engage in your fantasy,” he told Labor MPs.