Joint media release:

  • The Hon Andrew Hastie MP, Shadow Minister for Defence

31 May 2024

For the first time since 2012 Australia will have half of the Collins Class submarine fleet out of the water and out of action under the incompetent mismanagement of the Albanese Labor Government.

Senator Simon Birmingham in Senate estimates this morning revealed that ASC Pty Ltd (ASC) will have two Collins Class submarines out of action at Osborne shipyard in Adelaide for the rest of the year while another is still in mid-cycle docking at Henderson, WA.

Making matters worse, sole shareholder minister of ASC Senator Katy Gallagher when asked said she had no knowledge of the delays to the Collins Class full cycle docking program stating, “No, it hasn’t. But it would not normally be, I wouldn’t have thought, it would come through defence.”

Senator for South Australia and Shadow Minister for Foreign Affairs Simon Birmingham said it was disturbing that the Albanese Government had allowed this major disruption to the Collin Class fleet that would have significant ramifications for Australia’s national security.

“The last time this many submarines were out of action was under the last federal Labor government, which is a trend that should alarm Australians about Labor’s competence to manage Australia’s defence capabilities.

“Astonishingly the Labor’s minister responsible for ASC didn’t even know of these major gaps in our defence capability and said that she wouldn’t have expected to be told.

“The Albanese Government are showing an appalling lack of urgency and disinterest in the availability of our critical defence assets.

“New problems in Collins and delays in availability should be sending alarm bells through the Albanese Government but instead they’re just shrugging their shoulders at news that half of Australia’s submarine fleet will be out of the water until at least Christmas.

“The government must get on top of these delays so as not to endanger the Collins Life of Type Extension (LOTE) program and ensure continuity of submarine capability prior to AUKUS deliveries of nuclear-powered submarines.

“Simply hoping for the best is no way for ministers to manage Australia’s submarine program which should instead demand the strongest leadership for Australia’s national security.”

Shadow Minister for Defence, Defence Industry and Defence Personnel said this is another catastrophic failure under a weak Albanese Government.

“The Albanese Government keeps repeating how we are living in the most dangerous times since the Second World War, yet their actions don’t match their words,” Mr Hastie said.

“What we have here is complete and utter failure under Katy Gallagher, who’s supposed to be driving the best performance of the submarine sustainment under her watch.

“These revelations are a disastrous setback for Australia’s submarine capability, and keeping on track for AUKUS.

“If Labor can’t be trusted to maintain the submarines we do have, how can they be trusted to keep Australia on track for AUKUS and Submarine Rotational Force-West in 2027?”