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Government bungles submarine combat system project.



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MEDIA RELEASE

Senator Chris Evans Labor Senator for Western Australia Shadow Minister for Defence

1 July 2003

GOVERNMENT BUNGLES SUBMARINE COMBAT SYSTEM PROJECT

The Howard Government’s interference in the project to replace the combat system for the Collins submarine will see taxpayers paying $455 million for a system that may not deliver a fully capable fleet.

The Government has been happy to spend six years running down the Collins class submarine for political gain but then interfered in the project that would have ensured we achieved a world-class conventional submarine.

Today’s announcement that the first contract for the replacement of the Collins combat system has been signed neglects to include the following facts:

The Government’s own McIntosh/Prescott report in June 1999 recommended replacing the entire combat system with a ‘proven in-service system’. A tender process for a replacement combat system was held through 2000.

At the conclusion of that tender process the Department of Defence recommended that a German system, currently in service, be purchased.

In July 2001 the then Defence Minister, Peter Reith, overturned the recommendations of his Department and the Government’s report, and elected to purchase a US system that was still being developed, would have to be adapted for use in the Collins submarine and only partially replaced the trouble prone existing system.

As a result the Government has now agreed to pay $455 million for a combat system that will not be fully installed in the Collins submarine fleet before 2011 and maybe much later.

The Howard Government’s decision to also abandon the tender process for the replacement torpedo for the submarines has seen the cost of that project blow-out from $250 million to over $450 million for a torpedo that is too heavy for our submarines and will not enter service before 2010.

For comment: Chris Evans 0419 983 593 Tim Friedrich 0408 577 617