Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton has shot down criticism of Australia’s future submarines program as “a lot of kerfuffle”.
The federal government has found itself in hot water after the French firm in charge of the $80 billion project back-pedalled on its promise to engage local contractors.
“The thing is in design stage, the architects are working on it at the moment, and then they’ll put the contracts out,” Mr Dutton said on Friday.
“There’s a lot of kerfuffle about this but when you strip it back, that’s exactly what you would expect.”
Naval Group has refused to say whether Australian firms will get half of the work on the submarines.
Former defence minister Christopher Pyne, who signed the contract with the company, said the government should insist on at least 60 per cent local content.
“The government needs to hold their feet to the fire to ensure they fulfil their obligation,” he told The Australian.
Mr Pyne said in 2016 that up to 90 per cent of the work could be done in Australia, but did not insist on a specific local content target in the agreement.
The submarine project has already been hit by long delays and massive cost blowouts.
“In every direction this thing is going the wrong way,” Labor’s defence spokesman Richard Marles said.