Anthony Albanese will soon reveal the details of the historic defence deal that will allow Australia to become just the seventh nation to have a nuclear-powered submarines.
The prime minister is in the US city of San Diego – homeport to the US Navy’s Pacific Fleet – to make the announcement alongside AUKUS partners, US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Rishi Sunak.
According to leaks from both sides of the Atlantic, the three-phase plan will include US submarines visiting Western Australia more regularly, Australia purchasing up to five second hand US Virginia-class nuclear subs and a next-generation fleet to be built from a British design and include American US combat systems and weapons.
The price tag is said to be at least $200bn over the life of the submarines.
US Navy Virginia Class submarine are expected to operate out of Australia from 2027.
Estimates provided to The Australian newspaper forecast the program would cost more than $200bn over 30 years, while Sky News has reported that Mr Albanese won’t be announcing a dollar figure.
Instead, Sky said the government will say the project will cost over 0.1 per cent of GDP every year for 30 years.
About 20,000 jobs are expected to be needed for the project and operation of the new fleet.
Speaking during a walk with Royal Australian Navy Chief Vice-Admiral Mark Hammond on Monday, Mr Albanese said it was “a new dawn in San Diego and a new dawn for Australia’s Defence policy tomorrow”.
Mr Albanese and Mr Sunak held talks and dinner on Monday night (Australian time).
“Tomorrow will be a very big day. AUKUS has been a lot of hard work, but it is in the three countries’ interests,” Mr Albanese said.
“We see that this is an investment in our capability. But at the same time, of course, we’re investing in our relationships in the region as well.”
UK Prim e Minister Rishi Sunak and Anthony Albanese will announce the AUKUS deal alongside US President Joe Biden on Tuesday. Photo: Alex Ellinghausen (SMH and News Corp pool photo)
Mr Albanese has spoken to region leaders and said the deal and been well-received, as Beijing ramped up its attack on AUKUS.
China has accused the countries involved in the agreement of returning to a “Cold War mentality” and stirring up an arms race that would undermine peace in the region.
Mr Sunak said AUKUS reflected the UK’s “commitment” to Australia and the Pacific region more broadly.
Then Australian Prime Minister Scott Morrison with US President Joe Biden and then UK PM Boris Johnson announced the AUKUS trilateral security partnership in September 2021. Picture: Newswire/Gary Ramage
The trilateral AUKUS security pact was signed by the former Morrison government in September 2021 and the opposition has said the project still has bipartisan support.
It caused a rift with France after the Morrison government axed a $90bn contract with France to build diesel-electric powered subs.
The US, China, UK, France, India and Russia are the only six countries with nuclear-powered submarines.
Opposition Leader Peter Dutton, who was the final Morrison government defence minister, has recommitted the coalition to bipartisanship on AUKUS and the subs deal.
“We’re a population of 25.8 million peopleon an island essentially in the middle of nowhere,” Mr Dutton told ABC TV’s 7.30 on Monday night,
“If we think we can go it alone or our chances in the next decade or two or 50 years is best served by us cutting links with established partners like the United States or the United Kingdom, I think that is wrong thinking and I think we would be in a perilous situation quickly if we took that course.”
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