Reinforcing Failure, Labor refuses to make the hard call to cancel the disastrous $45 billion Hunter Frigates


The Albanese Government is reinforcing and rewarding failure with its review of the Australian Navy’s surface fleet, released today.

More than a decade after it was conceived the Hunter Frigate program is being backed in with the same eye-watering price tag of $45 billion but producing six instead of nine ships. If ever built they will be the most expensive, and some of the least useful, warships of their class on the planet.

The Hunter Frigates program was referred to the National Anti-Corruption Commission last year by the Greens due to the lack of value-for-money assessment, uncompetitive tender and systemic failures.

Remarkably, the same senior people in Defence that landed us with the Hunter Frigates mess are now being rewarded with an extra $11.1 billion to buy a new class of unidentified Tier 2 ships.

The current price tag for Labor’s “enhanced lethality surface combatant fleet” review is a total spend of $54.2 billion over the next decade. This is on top of the $368 billion on yet-to-be-designed AUKUS submarines.

In short, Defence has kept all their money, kept all their failed projects and been given more money and more projects to play with. Rewarding failure like this makes us less safe.

Greens Defence Spokesperson Senator David Shoebridge said:

"This review is about reinforcing failure, recommitting to the disastrous $45 billion Hunter Frigates and expecting the same team that led us into this mess to fix it."

“Two years of dithering by Defence Minister Marles has led us to this point. The push for continuous shipbuilding in Adelaide, linked to local politics and the hope to keep a nuclear submarine workforce, is what’s driving this multi-billion dollar mistake.

“No matter how many times Defence leadership fails, both overcharging and underdelivering, they keep their jobs and get rewarded with billions more public dollars.

“The goal in this review is to more than double the size of the combat surface fleet, with unclear timelines and increasing budgets. It is not a review it is a shopping list and it will be impossible to hold Defence to account for the inevitable future failures.

"The framing of this review to increase lethality and Defence expenditure should tell you everything you need to know, it is all about threatening our neighbours not defending Australia.

“One of the most remarkable features of this $54 billion shopping list is how little it connects with the $368 billion AUKUS submarine project.

“If you were looking for a coherent plan to defend Australia you won't find it in this review,” Senator Shoebridge said.