Television Interview, CNBC

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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02 6277 7800

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5 June 2023


DEPUTY PRIME MINISTER, RICHARD MARLES: I think the environment is very complex and in many ways I think it is the most complex strategic set of circumstances, in some ways the most threatening strategic circumstances that we have seen in the world since the end of the Second World War- and I know it's a big thing to say, but that's how we see the world right now. And so, a few things flow from that; the global rules based order is under as much pressure now as it has been at any point since the end of the Second World War. We see that in Europe, with the war in Ukraine, but we see it in some respects in this part of the world as well, which is why so much of our strategic intent and our strategic narrative is around the importance of maintaining the global rules based order. And it is a fine sentiment, but it's also in our national interest. As a country of our size, we want a world in which international disputes are not going to be resolved by the rule of power might in that world- Australia won't bear that world. We want to have a world in which international issues are resolved by reference to rules, by reference to the international law. And that's what has to be paramount, and that's what we stand for.

SRI JEGARAJAH, HOST: Nuclear-powered submarine components is central to AUKUS. It's a multi-decade program. Can you sketch out the contours of this arrangement, Minister, and what happens if there is a change in the administration of your AUKUS partners?

MARLES: We're confident about the bipartisan position of this program in all three countries, so we do believe that this will be able to endure the distance and as you rightly say, it is a multi-decade program. I mean, this will see Australia be able to operate the first of our nuclear-powered submarines in the early 2030s and evolve the ability to build a nuclear-powered submarine- not the reactor- but the rest of the submarine in Australia in the early 2040s with a view to, by the early 2050s, having a fleet of eight nuclear-powered submarines. That's the trajectory. And there's obviously a lot of detail which underpins that. But again, it is worth kind of just understanding what we're doing here. We are over a period of 30 years transitioning from having six conventional submarines to eight nuclear-powered submarines. It is a very big uplift in our capability, but it's not a dramatic increase in the number of submarines that Australia will operate and we're seeing much bigger buildups of submarines and navies by others.


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