Josh, There has to be a proper balance in terms of the responsibilities of this parliament to ensure that governments do act in the public interest and that politicians are actually preserving confidentiality in the interests of the public, not in their own interests—for instance, to provide a shield to stop criticisms of their actions. This is despite the fact that this government has cut the funding to the FOI office, has cut the capacity of the FOI commissioner and has reduced the number of commissioners who are available to do the work.
It's not the first time we have engaged in these exchanges—it's most certainly not the first time in this chamber and we also have significant engagements in the estimates process. We are negotiating a strategic partnering arrangement with DCNS of France, but there is no number in there. So that's an important matter to discuss as well. We are entitled to have a much higher level of engagement with the parliament.
My suggestion would be to scrap the agreement—it hasn't been signed as yet with Naval Group Australia—and to start talking with the Germans and Japanese about off-the-shelf models we can both afford and have in the water in a few years, rather than in an unknown time frame. 1 Eagle Street As I said: how much is it going to cost us to get out of it if we have lemons delivered to us by 2032-34? For a project of such value, we need much more oversight. Senator Patrick has suggested, via the estimates process, that that figure could be virtually double that. These are matters of such importance that I remind senators that we are now in the circumstance where there has been some change in these questions. The Future Submarine is an important capability.
What it's cost us has completely blown out, we have an inferior product and it's not delivering what we need for the Australian people. I find it extraordinary that I could tell you pretty much what it would cost to buy a German submarine off the shelf and to have it built entirely in South Australia. In an answer provided to me by Defence last week, they were unable to provide a technology readiness level for the pump jet. They are at sea on Japanese Soryu class submarines, and my understanding is that the Singaporeans will put them on to their Type 218SG submarines.
There are negotiations and there are matters in which public servants have to provide advice to government, and they have to be confident that the advice will be frank and fearless. On 12 February, documents relating to the Australian Industry Capability Plan, submitted by DCNS to the Department of Defence in response to the Future Submarine CEP, were again denied to the chamber. It was quite interesting to listen to Senator Carr today saying that those companies may not be around and might be sold to Italian companies. « Previous debate Are Labor going to continue it? But I do want to state that the principle is one that I think we do have to consider very, very carefully. We can't leave it to making decisions that far down the track. Perhaps One Nation has been infiltrated by someone whose mission, or whose organisation’s mission, if to make Pauline look as daft as possible. Because how this determination took place stinks to high heaven.
Where's the additional money being spent? There are two explanations for this. We don't know what we're up against. Rather than dealing with the substantive question of whether or not information should be made available, governments seek to retain information for themselves—not for genuine issues of national security or commercial in confidence but because they want to protect themselves from public criticism. Mathias Cormann (WA, Liberal Party, Vice-President of the Executive Council) Share this | Link to this | Hansard source. We don't have any intent to break national security; we don't have any intent to bust open the negotiating position of the Australian government. I understand that we need to have nuclear plants here in Australia, but we are moving forward so fast that we need to talk about all this. I have some questions about whether the minister should be held to account in the manner that some are proposing. We have a situation in this parliament alone where there have been 124 occasions where this government has refused to respond to requests for documents. We've got a project that started off at $50 billion and has doubled, and the Senate is blind as to the reasons.
This is a project that will go way beyond the life of this government, no matter how limited this government's life would appear to be. We should not have to read about it in the Financial Review.
In my time here, I've noticed a significant change. Other than two trial submarines, one on a French submarine and one on a Russian submarine, conventional submarines do not have pump jets.
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