The removal of "open tender", promised by Prime Minister Abbott on February 8-9, 2015, and its replacement on February 10, 2015 with "competitive evaluation proces" underlines that Australia's selection of a future submarine:
- involves political considerations at the level of Prime Minister that are paramount
- therefore decisions are being made at the level of Prime Minister, his subordinate Prime Minister's Office and his subordinate Department of Prime Minister & Cabinet. These (mostly) men have already drawn advice from many Departments including Defence
- put another way the hundreds of technical considerations that would have been considered important in a tender are less important or have already been decided on
- there is no room left for submarine experts in the Navy, DMO or broader Defence Department to imagine that the now obsolete term "tender" could contradict the decision of the Prime Minister
- the Prime Minister level decision probably has been made with Japanese Prime Minister Abe - that Australia will buy the Soryu. Abbott probably made a Captain's Pick of the Soryu
- the Soryu decision is made for political, economic and strategic reasons. Those reasons include:
: the US wants Japan to supply the submarine for US reasons (economic, alliance dynamics, political, technical etc). Those reasons include the US preference that Japan's submarine sale serves as a source of income and encouragement for an expanded Japanese defence budget and to help Japan build an alliance system. The US is also selective as to which nations it will supply the its highly sensitive submarine combat system
: the Soryu involves less technical and economic risk compared to the unbuilt competing bids (HDW 216, DCNS SMX Ocean and Saab-Kockums 4,000 ton Type 61)
: a deal with Japan is because Japan (not Germany, Sweden and France) is an important Australian regional ally that can offer many future benefits in strategic support, information sharing and broader trade areas.
: buying the 3,000 ton (surfaced) Soryu should involve lower price and shorter lead-times than
buying the competing 4,000 ton (surfaced) drawing board only competitors.
Basically, whether the selection is called "open tender" or "competitive evaluation", the same person, Prime Minister Tony Abbott, is making the same decision for the same reasons. Due to US (and to a lesser extent Japanese) preferences those reasons would apply to any Coalition Prime Minister that might replace Tony Abbott.
A Labor Prime Minister may or may not be swayed by some Build in Australia (union, ideological, electoral) reasons. As Labor Opposition Leader Shorten completely supported Australia following the US back into Iraq it is very likely that Shorten would also adhere to the US policy on Austrralia choosing the Soryu.
It is unknown whether Japan (including Mitsubishi and Kawasaki) would be prepared to resolve many Australia public misgivings, by agreeing to do much of the Soryu build in Australia. I already take is as given that the major Australian industrial input will be ASC doing some work on the evolved AN/BYG-1 combat system - also Australia making some of the submarine steel.
I would say the only way to defeat the Soryu "bid" would be to appreciate Australia's budget crisis. This is to respond by offering a submarine at vastly lower price. That could not be achieved with a 4,000 ton (surfaced) design. Only modifications of existing submarines (around 2,000+ tons) have a chance of beating the existing Soryu submarine.