The Defence Minister has refused to rule out changes to the SEA 1000 program amid ongoing scrutiny over the cost and timing of the Attack Class delivery.
Minister for Defence Peter Dutton has called for greater clarity from Naval Group regarding its capacity to meet contractual obligations under its SEA 1000 contract.
The minister said “many questions” have arisen from his discussions with the prime and his “extensive briefings” with Defence.
“I have got more detail to go through. I want to see the subs delivered on time and on budget,” he said.
“I have been very clear. I met with the primes and with the heads of those that have very significant contracts with our government.”
Minister Dutton said the government would honour the contract unless Naval Group fails to meet its obligations, adding that the Defence would continue to carefully monitor the prime’s progress.
“[Like] with any contract that the Commonwealth enters into, those people that have contracted with us know that we are going to hold them to the conditions of the contract and if there are penalties to pay or there's other action that we can take, that will happen,” he said.
“I want greater performance than what we’ve seen previously.”
The ongoing debate over Australia’s Future Submarines program comes amid growing fears of a regional conflict off the back of escalating tensions between China and Taiwan.
Minister Dutton said conflict should not be discounted, given China’s ongoing commitment to its One China policy.
“I think China has been very clear about the reunification and that's been a long-held objective of theirs and if you look at any of the rhetoric that is coming out of China, from spokesmen particularly in recent weeks and months in response to different suggestions that have been made, they have been very clear about that goal,” he said.
However, Minister Dutton said Australia and its international partners would continue to engage in dialogue with the communist regime to maintain stability in the region.
“[For] us we want to make sure that we continue to be a good neighbour in the region, that we work with our partners and with our allies and nobody wants to see conflict between China and Taiwan or anywhere else,” he said.