Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced plans for a $10bn submarine base somewhere on Australia’s east coast in an effort to support nuclear-powered submarines.
In total there are 19 locations that have been considered but it was announced that Brisbane, Newcastle, and Port Kembala were shortlisted as cities for the base. Mr Morrison addressed the Lowy Institute in which he said that Australia faces a more dangerous security environment now than it has in the past 80 years.
“The decision to establish an east coast submarine base has been many years in the making as part of our transition from Collins [class-submarines],” he said.
“However, the government has now determined that, to support our decision to acquire nuclear-powered submarines, establishing a second submarine base on our east coast will enhance our deterrent capability, with significant advantages in operational training, personnel and industrial terms.”
Australia’s existing submarine fleet are kept at the Royal Australian Navy Base HMAS Sterling on Garden Island just off the coast of WA near Perth. Six Collins-class submarines are kept there but will be phased out when the nuclear-submarines get to Australia before 2040 according to the ABC.
The introduction of a new submarine fleet comes a part of the AUKUS alliance in which the United Kingdom and United states will help Australia to acquire nuclear-powered submarines in an effort to protect the Indo-Pacific Regions from foreign threats. Former Prime Minister Malcom Turnbull commented on the announcement and said that rushing the execution of this plan is just a ploy for election time.
“We are literally on the eve of an election and rushing decisions that were meant to take 18 months into a six-month time frame to suit an election is just transparently political,” Mr Turnbull said.
“The idea that you would be rushing decisions like this at this stage speaks only of politics, and I’m afraid that once again Mr Dutton and Mr Morrison are using national security very cynically as a political exercise.”
People online have weighed in on the decision with one Twitter user @MyFirstCousin pointing out “Why would a government locate a nuclear submarine base close to a population of millions?”. While another user @SumMatch said that “Australia needs Nuclear Weapons, intercontinental Missiles, without that we are sitting ducks”.
It is reported by the government that initial work on the base will be finished by the end of 2023.