Back to that Submarine Institute of Australia event we mentioned earlier:
Addressing the same conference, the defence minister, Linda Reynolds, said the government was investing in Australia’s submarine capability – and its ability to attack other submarines – “because we must, for our nation’s security, and also for our sovereign interests”.
Reynolds said Australia’s location at the junction of the Indian and the Pacific oceans had been a strategic blessing for decades, “but we now face the most consequential strategic realignment since the end of world war two”.
She characterised the Indo-Pacific region as being the epicentre of this change. She said major powers had become more assertive. Strategic competition between the US and China was “driving dynamics in our region”, with nations across the region “modernising their militaries and also accelerating their preparedness for conflict”.
Without naming any particular country, she said regional military forces were “developing and adopting disruptive technologies at a faster pace than ever before”.
Reynolds said “some nations” were “increasingly employing coercive tactics that seek to compromise sovereignty” including cyber attacks, foreign interference, supply chain disruption and economic pressure.
Against that backdrop, Reynolds said submarines were “an indispensable asset to our nation’s defence”.
She denied submarines would become obsolete, saying while some technological developments may make submarines easier to detect, the government was focused on “a long-term strategy to evolve and adapt to changing technological developments”.
Reynolds said the ongoing importance of submarines was “the view of every significant power in our region: India, China, Russia, South Korea, North Korea, Japan, and, of course, the United States”. Pushing back at the Labor defence spokesman Richard Marles’ line of argument, Reynolds denied there had been any cost blowout in the future submarine program.