Submarine program requires truly deep thinking, not shallow thought bubbles

Craig Emerson's call for manufacturing more submarines in place of Holdens has not been thought through. More broadly, it reflects the type of shallow, short-term and politically expedient thinking on strategic security issues by our political class and commentariat that has bedevilled adequate national defence planning over recent decades.


Letter to The Australian
Sunday, 29 December 2013
(not published)

On the up side it is good to see Craig Emerson (“Deep thinker says subs are the solution”, December 28/29) finally think a bit about a defence issue — even if only ostensibly in his desire to replace manufacturing Holdens with building submarines.

Particularly as Craig was a senior Cabinet minister when defence investment was savagely slashed — contrary to the long-term national interest — solely for short-term personal and factional advantage during internecine rivalry in the governing party.

On the down side, Craig’s claims are completely nonsensical.

Tails should never wag dogs in both economic and strategic security terms.

Moreover, while an island-continent totally dependent on seaborne trade needs some submarines, no credible strategic security expert advocates relying on them alone or indeed even predominantly.

Nor is it possible to create and sustain a fleet of 24-36 subs, even if most of the other defence capabilities Australia needs for the next half-century could somehow be sacrificed to achieve it.

And not in the manufacturing rescue timeframe Craig envisages anyway.

Finally, even if Australia needed and was able to build and sustain so many submarines, the long construction timescales involved mean that most of these boats — the generation-after-next ones built from the mid 2030s onwards — will inevitably need to be nuclear-powered for financial, technical, strategic and operational reasons

Have Craig and either his fellow rent-seekers or nuclear-phobes considered that?


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