12 February 2015
Transcript - #2015022, 2015

Doorstop interview

REPORTER:

Treasurer, the Prime Minister yesterday didn’t rule out a handshake deal or some sort of agreement with Japan over submarines. Can you shed any light on that? Has there been any sort of agreement?

TREASURER:

No, and he said that in Parliament – there has been no agreement. So, I don’t know where this suggestion is coming from. He was pretty blunt in Parliament.

REPORTER:

But he said he had been talking to lots of people – he didn’t rule it out [inaudible].

TREASURER:

Well, that’s not an agreement. Well, you know, you are a headline looking for a story.

REPORTER:

This is potentially the biggest acquisition we have ever seen in defence. Is it an appropriate way to go about it talking about it in terms of a leadership ballot for the Liberal Party?

TREASURER:

These are decisions that are made through the National Security Committee of the Cabinet and by the Cabinet. They’re very important issues for Australia. Let me just explain, going to an open tender for submarines is not like going to an open tender for tables and chairs. You actually have to provide detailed strategic and sensitive military information to a potential tenderer and if that tenderer then passes that on to some of our potential enemies, it represents a risk to our nation. So, when it comes to submarines, you need to have a very, very careful process that involves some competitive tension but in no way allows people to get strategic information that might affect our future security. The second key thing about submarines is it’s not a normal production line; it is a very sophisticated production line. I don’t think you would have any more strategically complicated production line in the world than that of a submarine. So, I think we need to be a bit sensible about this.

REPORTER:

So, there has been no agreement whatsoever [inaudible].

TREASURER:

No.