Submarine project boosts France-Australia ties


The first Australian jobs from the $50 billion submarine deal with France are on track to start within five years.

Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says he's been advised construction is expected to begin in South Australia in 2021/22.

"There will be thousands of jobs. It's a massive project," he told reporters in Paris before heading to Cherbourg where he and France's Armed Forces Minister Florence Parly will open an Australian office to guide the submarine project.

In December last year, Australia and France formally sealed a $50 billion agreement under which French naval contractor DCNS (now known as Naval Group) will build a new fleet of diesel-electric submarines based on its nuclear Barracuda.

The French firm beat bidders from Japan and Germany.

'Not simply a contract'

French President Emmanuel Macron earlier on Sunday said the submarine deal was more than just a contract and had lifted the two countries' broader economic relationship to its highest level ever.

Speaking at a joint media conference in Paris with Mr Turnbull, President Macron said the bilateral relationship had never been as intense.

"It is not simply a contract," he said.

Macron talks submarine deal with Australia
Macron talks submarine deal with Australia

The decision had national, international and strategic outcomes, as well as providing work for Australian industry.

Mr Turnbull said the submarine program was the "largest and most ambitious military project in Australia's history".

"It is a matter of great historical moment that 100 years on from those shared sacrifices from ... those days when men from Australia came to the other end of the world to fight for freedom - their grandchildren, their great grandchildren, are working together to secure our freedom not just for today but for many, many years to come," he said.

"The Future Submarine Project is a multi-generational project; it is a national enterprise and it is one where we work together, our two nations side-by-side as our forebears did so long ago."

Project not without controversy

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has controversially argued a Plan B involving nuclear-powered submarines should be considered alongside the French project.

However the government has rejected it.

The project has not been without controversy.

In early 2016 DCNS was left reeling after details from more than 22,000 pages of documents relating to submarines it is building for India were published in The Australian, leading to concernsabout the company's ability to protect sensitive data.

However the government is confident processes have been improved.

Source AAP

Stay up to date with SBS NEWS

  • App
  • Subscribe
  • Follow
  • Listen
  • Watch