25 December 2015
If reports that the total cost of Australia's new fleet of submarines will be $5 billion less than expected are accurate, the vessels should be fully built in Australia and the fleet increased to 12, the South Australian Government has said.
News Limited is reporting companies from Germany, France and Japan proposed cheaper build options when they lodged their confidential bids for the project to the Federal Government last month.
The report has fuelled the South Australian Government's hopes that 12 instead of the rumoured eight subs will be built in the state.
Reports suggest the project would cost between $10 billion and $12 billion for a fleet of eight, much lower than the $20 billion estimated for a 12-sub fleet.
SA Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith said if the projections were correct, there would be enough money to ensure a viable submarine industry in the state.
"If that information is correct then it certainly is a good signal that we can build 12 submarines in Australia," he said.
"This morning's news that the submarines will cost far less than expected comes as no surprise to the South Australian Government, that's what we have been saying all along."
He said the benefits of a fully Australian build would be returned to the Government in the form of tax revenue and industry stimulation.
"This puts to bed once and for all the idea that we should build less than 12 submarines, clearly it is affordable to build 12," Mr Hamilton-Smith said.
"It must be 12, for not only our national defence, but to ensure we have a continuous build of submarines in our shipyards."
The Federal Government has previously said it planned to release details for the project in its defence white paper early next year.
South Australians have been were keenly interested in the project after the Coalition promised before the 2013 election that a fleet of 12 subs would be built in the state.