You are using an older browser version. Please use a supported version for the best MSN experience.

Businessmen lobby for nuclear subs

AAP logoAAP 13/09/2016

A group of Australian businessmen is lobbying for Australia's next fleet of submarines to be nuclear-powered and supplied by another country, warning the current deal to build the vessels in Australia will "condemn our sailors to their graves".

The group says it can't understand the federal government's decision to award a multi-billion deal to French supplier DCNS, which will be required to deliver 12 diesel-powered submarines for which there are no drawings and no plans.

But the group was dismissed as "sad old men" by South Australian Premier Jay Weatherill who rubbished their proposal to go nuclear.

"(It) looked like it was scribbled on the back of a serviette after a long lunch," Mr Weatherill tweeted on Tuesday.

The businessmen, including Dick Smith, Gary Johnston of Jaycar Electronics and ad man John Singleton took out a full-page advertisement in The Australian slamming the move to go with French producer DCNS, suggesting buying off-the-shelf nuclear subs would be a better option.

They said under the deal the navy's next fleet of conventionally-powered subs would come into service at a time when the rest of the world would be operating nuclear fleets, which would be "like putting a propeller plane up against a modern jet".

"We will be condemning our sailors to their graves," the advertisement said.

It also questioned the economics of the decision, saying it would be cheaper to subsidise car industry jobs, if creating jobs was the desired outcome.

Mr Johnston said DCNS was being asked to build a diesel-powered version of what is essentially a nuclear-powered sub.

"It's a bit like trying to turn a cat into a dog. It's crazy. Why would you do it?" he told Sky News.

"They haven't got a drawing, they haven't got a plan. Their current nuclear submarine, the Barracuda, is sitting on a slipway.

"It won't even be tested until next year."

DCNS declined to comment on the row, but the federal government said the decision to award the contract to the company came after a competitive evaluation process, which involved the best experts available.

It said the new subs would be regionally superior and would allow Australia to pursue its national and international interests.

image beaconimage beaconimage beacon