War of words over $50bn submarine deal

Future Submarine
Future Submarine - Image by DCNS

A battle over “trust” has surfaced between federal Defence Industries Minister Christopher Pyne and South Australian Defence Industries Minister Martin Hamilton-Smith.

 

Trouble began to emerge when Hamilton-Smith commented on the unique way Defence business operates and the structure of Pyne’s future submarine project.

“Every other federal minister does this,” Hamilton-Smith stated after he called for a regular ministerial council meeting to oversee the upcoming programs.

“The federal Health Minister has a council of state ministers, the federal Transport Minister has a council of state ministers. That doesn’t happen in defence. The project won’t work until it does.”

However, according to Pyne, issues between the two started a long time ago. “You have to be able to trust people,” he said earlier in July.

“But you can’t trust a person who got elected as a Liberal and then within a month joined a Labor government – there’s no trust there.”

Mr Pyne continued his war of words, stating, “My predecessor, Marise Payne, never felt the need to meet with Martin Hamilton-Smith and that didn’t do us any harm in South Australia in getting the submarine contract, the offshore patrol vessels and future submarines program, worth $90 billion for us.”

Mr Hamilton-Smith retorted, saying that he believed Mr Pyne was playing politics and that his attitude was disappointing.

“The media will quickly savage this project if there is any sign of disharmony or disunity or lack of, if I could call it, a team Australia approach in the way we get about this, and certainly team France will quickly realise we are not working together if that is the case,” he said to the press yesterday.

“This is the future of our kids, the future of our families and it’s the future of business, and they elect politicians to act as statesman. We’re here to serve; we’re not here to play politics.”

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