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Abbott regrets not buying nuclear subs

AAP logoAAP 3/11/2016 Lisa Martin

Former prime minister Tony Abbott has told a charity dinner in Papua New Guinea that he regrets not buying nuclear submarines for Australia.

"I do regret, though, that my own government did not give more consideration to off-the-shelf nuclear-propelled options - as this might have provided a more capable submarine more quickly," Mr Abbott told an Anglicare dinner in Port Moresby.

"In an uncertain world, where countries look to Australia for help, it would have been good to have these new subs much sooner than the middle of the 2030s."

The Turnbull government this year awarded the contract for designing Australia's new submarine fleet to French shipbuilder DCNS.

The program is worth $50 billion.

Mr Abbott had in the past favoured a Japanese build.

In September, a group of prominent businessmen including Dick Smith, Gary Johnston of Jaycar Electronics and ad man John Singleton had lobbied for nuclear powered submarines - taking out full page newspaper advertisements.

Mr Abbott has also had informal talks with PNG Prime Minister Peter O'Neill during his visit to Port Moresby.

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