House debates

Thursday, 9 March 2023

Questions without Notice

Defence Procurement: Submarines

2:02 pm

Photo of Richard MarlesRichard Marles (Corio, Australian Labor Party, Minister for Defence) Share this | Hansard source

I thank the member for her question. Very shortly, the government will be announcing with the governments of the United States and United Kingdom the optimal pathway by which Australia will acquire a nuclear-powered submarine capability. This will bring to a conclusion the 18-month process under the banner of AUKUS which was commenced by the former government. I would like to acknowledge the member for Cook and I would like to acknowledge the Leader of the Opposition, because this is a moment that we want to be and that we know is a bipartisan moment of huge significance to our country. It is difficult to overstate the step that, as a nation, we are about to take.

Australia will become just the seventh country to have the ability to operate a nuclear-powered submarine. We have never operated a military capability at this level before. This will be a massive industrial endeavour which will see thousands of jobs created over the coming decades but, much more importantly, will contribute to the technological advancement of our wider economy. Clearly, these submarines will have the capability to operate at war, but the true intent of this capability is to provide for the stability and for the peace of our region—for the Pacific, for South-East Asia, for the Indian Ocean, for the broader Indo-Pacific region—because the defence of Australia doesn't really mean that much unless we can have the collective security of our region.

As a trading island nation, any adversary can do a whole lot of harm to Australia without ever setting foot upon our shores, which means, as a nation, we are deeply invested in the global rules based order which has underpinned the stability, the prosperity and the incredible economic growth of East Asia. The totality of our strategic intent is to defend that rules based order. I want to say at this moment to our neighbours and to our friends around the world that as Australia invests in its defence, as we acquire this nuclear-powered submarine capability, we do so as part of making our contribution to the peace and stability of our region and of the world.


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