April 20, 2016
Submarine Decision "soon". Narrowing Down to TKMS and DCNS?
Youtube featuring the DCNS Shortfin contender - published April 14, 2016.
This Australian ABC News, April 20, 2016 report strongly eliminates Japan from being the winner, but offers few indicators as to why.
“The Federal Government is preparing to announce the successful bidder for Australia's new fleet of submarines next week.
- Unknown if a final decision on the subs contract has been made
- Coalition MPs and senators in SA have been pressing the Government for a decision
- Window for announcement narrows with Budget looming
- The ABC understands Cabinet's National Security Committee discussed the three international bids
for the $50 billion contract last night [the night of April 19, 2016]
While it is not clear if the committee has made a final decision, it has all but eliminated the Japanese bid to build a fleet of 12 submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy's ageing Collins Class subs.
That leaves France and Germany still in the race.
Defence department officials have had reservations about the Japanese bid from the outset, because it emerged as an understanding struck between former prime minister Tony Abbott and Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe.
[ABC also said] Officials feared there was less enthusiasm in the Japanese bureaucracy for the deal and that would undo it in the long run…”
Announcing the submarine decision "soon" appears essential to the Turnbull Government's political prospects in South Australia in the runup to the 2 July, 2016 Election. It is still unclear whether one clear "Winner" will be announced or a shortlist of two.
1. If the Japanese flotilla (Soryu submarine + 2 destroyers) leaving Sydney is a consideration in this timing then an announcement after Tuesday 26 April (on the 26th the flotilla is due to leave) is likely. A decision from 27 to 29 April would mean less embarrassment/less a snub for Japan and less embarrassment for the Turnbull Government/Australia.
If the Japanese flotilla leaving is a consideration this suggests Japan has not won.
2. Fridays for announcements are usually considered politicly advantageous here in Australia - so a Friday 29 April submarine announcement might be likely.
3. The announcement (if made) would very likely be before the Federal Budget Day (3 May) and before Caretaker Period (with Caretaker probably 4 May onward).
One indicator though may be that Australian Defence Minister and the Chief of Navy have seemingly ignored the presence of the Japanese (almost an ally) flotilla in Sydney Harbour. Maybe ignoring Japan’s flotilla indicates correct procedural neutrality or maybe this is to minimise embarrassment to a losing contender. The Defence Minister has recently released Media announcements on several much more minor issues than an important flotilla in Sydney (see some minor issues at http://www.minister.defence.gov.au/marise-media-releases-archive/).
Another circumstantial indicator is the decision of the Prime Minister’s wife, Lucy Turnbull AO, to stand down as Honorary President of the German-Australian Chamber of Industry and Commerce. This was announced on April 13, 2016. Perhaps a consideration in separating from the Chamber was that TKMS is a Member of the Chamber. Lucy Turnbull’s timely and correct decision was mentioned by Sky News on April 19, 2016 and by the (Adelaide) Advertiser on April 18, 2016
Posted by Peter Coates