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Who will build our submarines? The highest bidder, or the highest voter?

Just who is going to build our submarines?

The Coalition entered the 2013 election committed to the Defence White Paper’s recommendation that 12 new submarines be built in South Australia:

The Defence White Paper, released by the former Labor government on May 3, 2013, said Australia’s existing Collins Class submarine fleet would be replaced with an expanded fleet of 12 conventional submarines. “The future submarines will be assembled in South Australia,” it said.

On May 8, opposition defence spokesman David Johnston said the Coalition accepted and “will deliver” the white paper’s commitment.

“The Coalition today is committed to building 12 new submarines here in Adelaide,” he said. “We will get that task done, and it is a really important task, not just for the Navy but for the nation.

“And we are going to see the project through, and put it very close after force protection, as our number priority if we win the next federal election.”

It looked like it was one of the rare promises the government would keep when in August 2014 the Prime Minister promised that the construction of the navy’s next generation of submarines will create a “massive amount of work’’ in Adelaide. All the talk in July of that year that Tony Abbott was about to sign a deal with Japan was no doubt just some speculation.

The promise went pear shaped, of course, when it was realised that South Australians couldn’t even build canoes, let alone modern, war-ready submarines. But the rhetoric had changed quickly since the August promise. The ‘canoe’ comment merely cemented the Prime Minister’s new opinion that submarines built in South Australia may not be able to build a “world class” submarine.

One can only speculate why this was not determined before the election, but that’s another story.

Our eyes again turned to Japan when it was reported in November that the government was considering buying Japanese Soryu submarines and again a month later when The Australian informed us that:

Tony Abbott is expected to announce within days the start of the process for selecting the navy’s new submarines from a range of international options and for building and maintaining them.

The Australian has been told the Prime Minister’s announcement is likely to include the creation of a new defence industry entity to work with an experienced international submarine designer and builder.

The expected re-election of Prime Minister Shinzo Abe’s government with a substantial ­majority will remove a significant hurdle to Japan providing new submarines for Australia.

Japan, Germany, France and Sweden are all keen to provide the submarines. The Japanese are ahead of the others because they have the most experience building conventional submarines large enough to meet Australia’s needs.

Yet in January we hear that Tony Abbott all but awarded the contract to Germany. German paper Spiegal reported that (translated thanks to Google Translate):

German Chancellor Angela Merkel fights for one of the largest arms export business of German history. It involves the sale of up to twelve submarines of the class 216 from Australia.

The deal could bring an order value of 14 billion euros of German industry and is in government circles as “outstanding”, as the submarine industry would benefit for decades.

Back in November Merkel has worked on the edge of the G20 summit, the Australian Prime Minister Tony Abbott in Brisbane for the German offer. Merkel argued here that Germany could act politically neutral, while Japan was suffering from tensions with China. So you‘re right,” Abbott said.

(By the way, did Tony Abbott also mention to Ms Merkel that he had on numerous occasions hinted that the Japanese were the front-runners?)

And that’s the last I thought we’d hear about it. Until today. Under this headline in The Australian: Abbott leadership crisis: PM woos MPs with $20bn submarine contract we read that:

Tony Abbott has sought to tie up his political support by opening the way for Adelaide-based shipbuilder ASC to bid for a lucrative tender worth at least $20 billion for the navy’s future submarines.

The assurance was part of a deal cut between the Prime Minister and key South Australian Senator Sean Edwards who said his support for Mr Abbott in a leadership contest would depend on the shipbuilder being given the greenlight to make a bid.

Mr Abbott rang Senator Edwards earlier this afternoon to make the commitment, with Senator Edwards telling The Australian a short time ago: “I won’t be supporting a spill motion tomorrow.”

So we’re back were we started. But it looks like it won’t be going to the highest bidder. Tony Abbott will – we can speculate – be spending $20 billion of the taxpayer’s money to buy one lousy vote to help him keep his job.

Now what about those canoes?

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  1. Carol Taylor

    How reminicent is this of a certain hospital in Tasmania? Abbott seems to know only how to bribe. I wonder what he’s going to offer other MPs for their vote? I know that here in northern Victoria, we have a rather large wish list.

  2. John Kelly

    He’s horsetrading to prevent a vote on whether they vote him out. If he loses, what else has he to trade?

  3. brickbob

    I think the only thing Tony has left to trade is his arse,but i dont think he’s getting any offers.”’

  4. John Fraser


    That type of behaviour did not sway the Qld voter.

    Everyone called it blackmail and or bribery.

    And I feel sure that Liberals will be having that pointed out to them tonight.

    In fact they should be wearing a T shirt that says :

    I'm not with stupid …. the blackmailer.

    Forgot that Mirabella was the sub expert ….. should have a T shirt for that too.

  5. ianmac

    (sub)statesmanship. captain’s call?

  6. Wun Farlung

    I found it amazing that during the recent SA bi-election that the lieberals got any votes at all

  7. Carol Taylor

    Abbott doesn’t have to worry about what the public think of this bribery, it’s just back bench bums on seats at the moment. I’m hoping to see the next newspoll if this motion doesn’t get up tomorrow…devastation, you ain’t seen nothing yet.

  8. Kaye Lee

    Tony said that the people hired him and only the people can fire him.

    The Galaxy poll, published by News Corp, found that 55 per cent of voters think Mr Abbott should stand down.

    I would suggest that the people’s spill motion has succeeded. Will the Liberals listen?

  9. Kaye Lee


    You have said that you are chastened, that you have learnt from this experience. Are you bargaining for votes? Have you offered Senator Sean Edwards from South Australia an open tender for the subs contract which would be a change of policy?


    No. What we have always intended to have is a competitive evaluation process. That’s what we’ve always intended to have…


    But we didn’t know that until today.


    Well, we are still a long way from doing this. I mean, the decision on this needs to be made by the end of the year, I would say, at the latest, but nevertheless it is something which is still evolving, as you’d expect.


    It’s a $40 billion bargain you’ve just struck, isn’t it?


    Well, no. You would expect the Australian Government to want to get the best value; you would expect the Australian Government to want to get the best product; and you would expect the Australian Government to give Australian suppliers a fair go.


    Aren’t we seeing the rather terrifying and dispiriting sight of a Prime Minister bargaining for his life, and not even just for his life, but for some more time?


    No. What you are seeing is the democratic process in action. This is and has always been a consultative and collegial Government, but it will be a more consultative and collegial Government in the future than it’s been in the past.


    Why don’t your colleagues believe that?

  10. kasch2014

    I wonder how many Australian politicians we could get put away for one million dollars? There seems to be no other way to take out the garbage, does there? We can’t vote them out if they prove to be totally unworthy and incompetent? They are so dirty that we are failures if we don’t do something? This is so disgusting. At their real value to the nation, $100.00 should just about pay for the entire rotten lot.

  11. keertidalleykeerti

    that would be $99.999999 too much!The remainder is compost value.

  12. Kaye Lee

    #imstickingwithtony because he has brought politics back into the pubs and made our young people realise they need to enrol to vote. Onya Tone, you woke the sleeping tiger.

    When I took part in the March in March I knew he was in trouble. Angry grandparents are a force to deal with.

  13. factory workers are people too

    Industry has bern geating up for this project for decades, then suddenly, oh australia is excluded from even bidding. Un-australian like knighting Prince Phillip on Australia day!

  14. PopsieJ

    It is said ,a country gets a government it deserves, but no way did we deserve Tony Abbott and mob

  15. mars08

    Astounding isn’t it? Apparently he’s willing to weaken our maritime security and the lives of our sailors… to save his political career. This from the folk hero who “stopped the boats”. Shameless imbecile!

  16. my say

    I am sure this lying cunning grub ,would sell his soul to the devil just to cling on to power,This man is worse than the Gillard government ever was ,he is a dictator do this or elese ,telling people how to vote ,making deals with others , to have the subs made in australia ,he is only thinking of himself ,and if his party dont vote him out tomorrow they are no better than him ,they were elected to govern for all australians not to keep Abbott in a job.

  17. mars08

    Huh….? A “cunning grub”? HA! This clown is about as “cunning” as a sack full of hammers! He’s an arrogant, clueless, blundering oaf. He doesn’t have the brains or charm to be anything close to cunning!!

  18. Roswell

    I’d like to see them built in SA. But the government has been telling us that SA wouldn’t be able to manufacture them up to standard. Now they’re flavour of the month. I’m confused.

  19. Matters Not

    I know it’s probably heresy, but here goes nevertheless, the question I ask is: “Why why do we need this new, and very expensive, submarine fleet?”

    Can anyone tell me what our existing underwater fleet has achieved in the past four decades? Against whom have they provided protection? Asylum seekers?

    I should add that I can’t understand why we are spending so much ‘treasure’ on planes that refuse to fly as intended? Further I ask why are we buying so many? Why did we order an extra 50 or so after Tony’s election?

    Just askin …

    Perhaps we could save a squillion or two if … whatever?

  20. paul walter

    Am sorry.. too disheartened to read it. Tomorrow, maybe.

  21. DanDark

    I have got to the point of Tones Overdose, it’s too much to take, my logic sensors have been attacked by this pack of desperate hyenas trying to save their own butts with just absolute crap and excuses.

    What all these blokes in suits say is making no sense, the hypocrisy is so overwhelming, but nooo keep on with the script, push the bullshit that this is all Labors fault because they had to make hard decisions and people don’t like it and we have taken a hit because we said we wouldn’t surprise the people, but because of labor we had to screw you people now,
    Of FFS they all need to see a shrink because they still don’t get it, Corman the conman today as soon as the questions got too hard the old revert back to harping on about Labor as a deversion because they can’t take responsibility for their own fecking policies and actions that they slammed on us with no forewarning
    Confucius say ” Problem should not become an excuse”
    They all need to learn this wise phrase at the LNP headquarters, or is that Chaos Headquartes now,
    where’s Get Smart and No 99 when ya need them 🙂

  22. paul walter

    On second thoughts, in accord with the fierce resistance shown by others here, I WILL comment.

    I will ask, what the cumulative bill would be for the Subs, Joint Strike Lemons, funny mothballed Tanks, helicopters that we still don’t have after decades and whatever else I’ve missed.

    How many tens of $billions have been extorted from us during the opaque processes that define these purchases?

    Then the wars, what did they cost?

    And the giant rort re detention centres, surveillance and so forth.

    Where is the bloody msm??

  23. paul walter


    Who has been impressed with the investigative fearless and without favour reportage on whatever it is that Andrew Robber is up to with the latest FTA’s?

    Can’t be good, otherwise they would bragging about it?

  24. mars08

    The lack of discussion about the desirability and value of a new sub fleet would seem to indicate that nobody on this forum actually cares if they are built at all. Just more big toys for the boys….

  25. paul walter

    Geez Mars 08.. How many tens of $billions would it take to get people to wake up?

    What problems would the country have left if all that money were put to some rational purpose.. why, we would even be able to start up a reasonable foreign aid program that would help people in poor countries offshore… I know, bwwhhaaa.

  26. DanDark

    Ok I will weigh into the subs discussion or bribe from Tones now
    Big toys for big boys, equals phallic symbols for insecure men who talk a lot of shit, and need something big to prove they are big tooo, big ships, big fighter jets, big submarines, to what join the war machine like America they are big weapons to kill the big enemy,
    more like little boys with big toys who are out of control and self imploding on a spectacular scale for all to watch, anyone for popcorn the shows only going to get better tomorrow and the next day and untill these oversized egos with little brains are kicked to the curb
    where’s mister canoe man been lately….missing in action as usual….

  27. mars08

    Martin Luther King: “A nation that continues year after year to spend more money on military defense than on programs of social uplift is approaching spiritual death.”

  28. PopsieJ

    And Martin Luther King got shot for saying that!

  29. jagman48

    The man was an idiot in opposition the man was an idiot. As a prime minister he is still a fool. Why people didn’t see it was a brilliant bit of work by the MSM and Kevin Rudd making background noise. Don’t build the subs at all.

  30. Terry2

    If SA Senator Sean Edwards believes that he has shaken hands with Abbott on a deal over the submarines, then I would suggest Senator Edwards count his fingers.

  31. stephentardrew

    The thing is every time he opens his mouth he becomes less and less trustworthy.

    The image is unfolding and the rose is turning into a festering goose.

    Now lets make some mileage out of those submarines.

    Mr Confidence turns into Mr Vacillate and he thinks we don’t notice.

    Keep digging Tony.

    Won’t be long before we are filling in the hole.

    We are dancing upon your delusional success.

  32. Rosemary (@RosemaryJ36)

    Look out, South Australia! The spill motion did not go ahead so your submarines have almost certainly sunk – along with all of us as a result of the TPP.

  33. Terry2

    It’s interesting that Boeing are able to assemble their Dreamliner in Seattle with component parts being manufactured in fifteen factories in nine countries – including Australia.

    They do this to keep potential customers onside by giving them input to the construction process.

    Could be a lesson there.

  34. Matthew Apostolides

    I don’t understand why this lie hasn’t been recognized more.
    The white paper that cost millions suggested ASC are the best option.
    South Australia is in crisis! With the loss of Holdens jobs, The Destroyer project ending and the subs promise being broken we are set to loose more than 13000 jobs including the component industry.

    Is this government trying to Destroy this state?

    And to make it work they have just backflipped on this promise to tender.

  35. wam

    great stuff, those were the days of my mentally ill and vicious attacks on the loonies, christians and their rabbott spilling onto the pynenut for his submarine rort – of rejecting the quotes of the germans, japanese @ $20b built in SA and opt for an union busting built in france in 10 years @$50b I was so depressive and aggressive that you banned me and I missed this. After all this time it is rex patrick running with this not wong and labor

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