Australian news, and some related international items

Internal briefing reveals Northern Territory government approach to defence regarding AUKUS nuclear submarines

ABC By Jacqueline Breen 8 Nov 22

The Northern Territory government quietly approached the defence department seeking to discuss Australia’s nuclear submarine program, according to internal briefing documents.

Key points:

  • Defence says it initiated talks with ‘priority’ states, while the NT approached the department for talks
  • The NT government says a review of the Top End’s ‘suitability and readiness’ is underway
  • A government advisor says nuclear submarines from the AUKUS partners could rotate through Darwin

Amid rising tensions in the Indo-Pacific region, Australia last year announced plans to build a fleet of nuclear submarines as part of the AUKUS defence pact with the United States and United Kingdom.

The NT’s interest in the nuclear submarines has been revealed in a defence department briefing given to the incoming Albanese government after the May election.

The briefing was released under Freedom of Information laws in September, but the NT’s approach to the department’s Nuclear-Powered Submarines Taskforce has not been previously reported.

Large parts of the undated brief were redacted but a short section on “stakeholder engagement” was published in full…………………………………

The ABC asked what the NT government had sought to discuss with the taskforce, including whether it included the prospect of hosting the nuclear submarines in Darwin harbour.

A spokesperson for Chief Minister Natasha Fyles said: “The NT government is undertaking a review to assess the Territory’s suitability and readiness to support the Federal Government.”………………….

Defence hints at ‘services and support’ that might be needed in Darwin harbour

Visiting Australian and international submarines are seen periodically in Darwin harbour.

But it is generally considered an unfavourable training ground or deployment point because of the long stretches of shallow waters stretching out from the coast.

A shortlist of three potential locations for a new base for the nuclear submarines — all of them on the east coast — was announced in the lead up to the federal election…………………………

US and UK nuclear subs should rotate through Darwin, advisor says

Last week, Four Corners revealed plans for the deployment of up to six nuclear-capable American B-52 bombers in the Top End, as part of an ongoing expansion of military activity in Australia’s north.

Following the report, deputy chief minister Nicole Manison was asked whether the deployment would put the NT at greater risk from potential adversaries………..

Defence and national security are among the key “growth” sectors the NT government hopes will drive its ambitious push to achieve a $40 billion economy by 2030.

To help maximise defence investment in the Top End, Labor created the Canberra-based position of Defence and National Security Advocate to lobby government and industry on the NT’s behalf.

The current advocate, defence analyst Alan Dupont, declined an interview request.

But he has previously argued for an NT role in the transition to nuclear boats, which may not be ready before Australia’s current conventional fleet needs replacing.

“The navy’s nuclear-powered submarines are unlikely to be in the water much before 2040,” he wrote after the AUKUS deal was announced.

“Having our submariners train and operate as joint crews on American and British nuclear submarines rotating through Darwin and Perth would help fill the looming submarine capability gap.”


November 10, 2022 - Posted by | Northern Territory, weapons and war

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