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HomeNewsEstimates” Defence confirms Aukus announcement date, budget under pressure

Estimates” Defence confirms Aukus announcement date, budget under pressure

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An announcement on what Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines will look like is expected to be made by the end of next month.

Department of Defence Secretary Greg Moriarty fronted senate estimates on Wednesday and confirmed a decision was imminent.

“Defence is working closely with our Aukus partners to develop the optimal pathway for Australia’s acquisition of conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines,” he said.

“We are on track for an announcement this quarter.

“The acquisition pathway is more than just the platform. We have also been assessing the safety, security, workforce and industrial base requirements to deliver Australian nuclear-powered submarines.

“Aukus is maturing as a genuine trilateral partnership, where partners engage as equals, mutually respect each other’s sovereignty and focus on the rapid delivery of cutting edge capabilities that are relevant to all of us.”

Mr Moriarty said the Aukus partnership would help Australia maintain its capability into the future, and “complement our collective efforts to ensure regional stability and security”.

Mr Moriarty’s appearance comes a day after former defence force chief Sir Angus Houston and Prof. Stephen Smith handed the Defence Strategic Review to the Prime Minister and Defence Minister.

Foreign Affairs Minister Penny Wong, under questioning from her coalition counterpart Simon Birmingham, said the government intended to ensure there was enough in the government’s budget to fund defence, particularly capabilities, in line with the recommendations of the DSR.

“We will ensure defence has the capacity to keep the nation safe,” she said.

She noted the government would consider all aspects of the review “diligently”.

She reiterated what Richard Marles and Anthony Albanese said on Tuesday, that a declassified version of the review would be made public eventually.

Tasmanian senator Jacqui Lambie asked if she – and other members of the foreign affairs, defence and trade legislation senate committee – would be able to read the classified report in a “secret room”.

Senator Wong said she would take that on notice, adding that the government intended to provide briefings to the opposition and the committee.

Mr Moriarty also revealed the defence budget was “under pressure” and that there was a need to accelerate capability development.

“We’re very realistic about the challenges we face. The budget that we have is fully committed and the defence strategic review will help us further sharpen those priorities and take hard decisions about what we need to focus on and what needs to be prioritised and perhaps even cut,” he said.

He conceded “shrinking strategic warning times and rapidly advancing technology” meant Australia needed to innovate quickly and develop its own industrial base.

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