December 17, 2015

Australian Submarine Issues, Turnbull Tokyo Visit - December 18, 2015

Prime Minister Turnbull met Prime Minister Abe at the G20 in Turkey, mid November 2015 (above).  They are meeting again tomorrow, December 18, 2015. (Photo courtesy AAP via Australia's SBS News). 

Turnbull visiting Abe in Tokyo, December 18.

As expected in Submarine Matters post of December 6, 2015 Australia's Prime Minister Turnbull is meeting Prime Minister Abe in Tokyo on December 18. Abe will be promoting the Japanese submarine, of course. The China problem will also be discussed.

Japanese whaling is also likely to be discussed. Japanese advice provided to Submarine Matters is:

Five years ago, then Australian Minister for Foreign Affairs and Trade, Stephen Smith MP, said:

Both Australia and Japan have agreed that, whatever our differences on whaling, this issue should not be allowed to jeopardize the strength and the growth of our bilateral relationship.”"

As well as talks in Tokyo some members of Turnbull's staff may visit the MHI and KHI Soryu submarine building yards in Kobe, Japan.


Defence Minister Payne (red-orange top) next to Japan's Defence Minister Nakatani at the 2 + 2 talks, November 22, 2015. In front is Foreign Minister Bishop (white top) next to Japanese Foreign Minister Kishida. (Photo courtesy The Australian).  

Insider Briefing, Adelaide, December 17

Meanwhile, in Adelaide, December 17, Defence Minister Marise Payne indicated/implied to industry insiders that the 2016 Defence White Paper, which will frame many submarine issues, will be released in early 2016. No submarine contender is likely to be chosen until after the 2016 Australian Federal Elections.


The Turnbull Government would lose votes if it indicated which States or electorates would Not be involved in the submarine build. So instead the Government can imply, before the Election that all may benefit. The hard decisions of saying which contender wins (which in turn favours the Australian companies the contender has formed alliances with) are best made after the Election.

In Australia elections typically fall in the Southern Hemisphere Spring (the weather is warm and people positive). The most popular month is September - see Background on Next Australian Federal ElectionTurnbull is a popular leader, whose Liberal National Party Coalition is very likely to hang on to power.

South Australia seems the most expectant and sensitive State on this issue. Hence all three contenders have rolled out promises that they will make Adelaide a submarine building and maintenance hub. After the Elections the Nick Xenophon Team (NXT) a small submarine fixated party from South Australia, may become more powerful, at the expense of the Turnbull Government.

It was easy to pick Japan as the winning contender when Abbott ruled, but under Turnbull the winner is a well kept secret. Either that or the Australian Government (and the US) have simply not decided yet.



imacca said...

Congrats on the page views. This is a good site for info that is relatively untainted by politics. :) I go other places for my "politics as a blood sport" fix.

SA certainly seems keen on getting the LOT as far as future naval ship building goes dont they??

Personally, i think they will get the subs build in toto with the best any other State can hope for being some amount of component build. SA to keep deep maintenance and W.A. the less intense maintenance rounds. Frigates and Patrol boats not so much as the Govt HAS to share some of the goodies around. W.A. to get the patrol boats, and Victoria a substantial share of the Frigates work.

If i had to put money on the subs supplier, i'd go TKMS. Looking at it broadly, from my reading on the options, i think it would get us, more reliably at less risk, a more capable and versatile boat than the Soryu derivative, AND a long lived, very significant local industrial capability in place. THAT means sophisticated manufacturing jobs in country with a training capability for those type of jobs that could be of broader significance. Would be a big spin off in terms of getting better value into the economy for our Defence $ spend.

Peter Coates said...

Thanks imacca

Yes I try to stay centrist politically.

Sharing the sub and shipbuilding work among the States will prevent Adelaide overcharging like a sheltered workshop. I think Adelaide is "bidding" for the lot knowing it might just get half.

The politicians are sure to divy up the work as they all have their own State-Electorate interests to service.

The power demands of the future sub's combat system may pretty much mean any AIP is inadequate during the critical operational phase of missions. As advanced AIP may be TKMS's greatest strength - it may not have that competitive advantage.

Japan with LIBs and no reliance on AIP may have an advantage.

Meanwhile a possible evolution from Shortfin SSK to Barracuda SSN may be the major (unstated) DCNS pitch. The US designed Combat System is better slaved to reactor power levels.

So its anybody's game still - I think.