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Incoming Australian defence minister to focus on sovereign submarine capability

Australia's new Defence Minister Richard Marles has prioritised the AUKUS programme to build new nuclear-powered submarines to replace the Royal Australian Navy's Collins-class submarines, two of which are pictured above. (Royal Australian Navy)

After assuming office on 1 June following the Australian Labor Party's 28 May election victory, new Defence Minister Richard Marles has named the accelerated provision of an advanced Australian sovereign submarine capability as his primary focus.

Australia's intention to acquire at least eight nuclear-powered submarines from either the United States or the United Kingdom under the auspices of the newly formed AUKUS (an alliance formed by Australia, the UK, and the US), was announced in September 2121.

Marles told media that when the outgoing Liberal–National Party coalition assumed power in 2013, a successor submarine had been expected to be in place for when the country's six Collins-class submarines began reaching their life-of-type in the mid-2020s.

“What we're looking at now from where the former government left us is that the next generation of submarines is not going to be in place until the 2040s,” he said. “I don't pretend this is not going to be a really difficult issue. It is. And I don't have all the answers right now on day one, but this is a key focus.

“Getting the question right in respect of submarines, in respect of making sure that we have a sovereign capability and making sure that we get that as soon as possible, is pretty well the number one agenda item in this portfolio.”

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