Australia will secure at least eight nuclear-powered submarines after a new trilateral pact was formed between Canberra, London and Washington which will focus on intelligence and technology sharing.
Shadow foreign minister Penny Wong joined the chorus of Labor MPs who have called on Prime Minister Scott Morrison to provide greater clarity on the new nuclear submarine deal with the UK and US.
Labor came out in support of the new deal and the AUKUS alliance when it was announced last week but has now criticised Prime Minister and demanded greater transparency.
It comes after Mr Morrison said Labor was having an “each-way bet” on national security”
Ms Wong said the party supports the new alliance between Australia, the UK and the US, but added there were “reasonable questions” still unanswered.
US Congress backs AUKUS nuclear submarine deal
“It’s so disappointing Mr Morrison always wants to pick a political fight and what I would say is that it’s bad for the country,” Ms Wong told Sky News Australia.
“This reflex of his is bad for the country.
“You know what would be good for the country? Australians and the political parties on this multi-decade project coming together.”
Ms Wong said there were genuine concerns regarding cost, jobs and capability, and also raised alarm over Australia’s future dependence on the United States and lack of military sovereignty.
The shadow foreign minister said a Senate inquiry was needed because of Mr Morrison’s refusal to “do what’s good for the country”.
“What you’ve seen is a Prime Minister who always wants to pick a fight when it comes to national security, that’s what’s happening here,” she said.
PM ‘at risk of playing 2D checkers’ over France submarine snub
“Mr Morrison has yet again refused to act in the national interest and refused to do what’s good for the country and bring people together in a bipartisan process.
“It’s very disappointing to see the Prime Minister play the politics again.”
Shadow Defence Minister Brendan O’Connor called for a Senate inquiry into the deal pointing to the cost, the timeframe, regional implications and potential loss of jobs as key concerns for Labor.
Labor MP Tanya Plibersek said now that Canberra had secured the deal, it was time to work through the details including Australia’s “sovereign capability”.
“But we also have interests and relationships much closer to home. We need to be working cooperatively with the ASEAN Nations,” Ms Plibersek told Sky News Australia.
“I don’t think you could say this was well handled. This is a huge project that’s had years of investment. Australia’s already spent billions of dollars on this, despite the fact we haven’t got a submarine yet.
IN FULL: PM Scott Morrison’s address following meeting with US Congress
“I don’t think you could say this is well handled and I think the very short notice given to the French government is obviously a problem that the Prime Minister needs to fix.”
Prime Minister Scott Morrison is currently in Washington DC ahead of the Quad Summit where he has met with US President Joe Biden and British Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
The bilateral meetings come amid growing tensions with France over the scrapped submarine deal.
French President Emmanuel Macron has reportedly rejected Mr Morrison’s phone calls, after France withdrew its ambassadors to Australia and the US.
The total cost of abandoning the deal with French manufactural Naval Group has still not been confirmed.

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