Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds has responded to comments made by Naval Group Australia CEO John Davis to ADM's Senior Correspondent Julian Kerr and Ben Packham of The Australian regarding the capabilities of Australian defence industry.
"I am disappointed by comments attributed to Naval Group Australia as they do not reflect the strong collaboration between Naval Group and Australian industry on this program of national significance," Minister Reynolds said. "Our government will hold Naval Group to account for the commitments they signed on for.
"The government remains focused on the thorough execution of the design phase of the program and the preparation for construction."
Minister Reynolds also said she will meet today with French defence minister Florence Parly in Munich to discuss the issue.
The strongly-worded statement comes despite a show of unity between Naval Group and the Department of Defence through a joint statement released yesterday afternoon.
"Sovereign control over the Attack Class Submarine fleet and maximising Australian industry involvement throughout all phases of the Attack Class Submarine Program are contracted objectives in the Strategic Partnering Agreement between Defence and Naval Group. Defence remains focused on these objectives and Naval Group is committed to their achievement," the statement said.
Davis told ADM that January's ANAO report into the submarine program was a 'fair reflection.'
“There are a couple of things which I personally drew from the report,” Davis said. “The first is that the ANAO were quite insightful in recognising that what they saw in terms of the framework that had been set up for the program was good. With these major programs there is always a conspiracy of optimism with people barrelling in and not taking the time to get the foundations right.
“I think the ANAO were clear in their observations that the framework has been put in place as the result of a very determined and very detailed approach.
“The report as a whole is a fair reflection on the program. It didn’t make any specific recommendations and that is good; the critical things that need to be in place are in place.”