We need your help now

Support from readers like you keeps The Journal open.

You are visiting us because we have something you value. Independent, unbiased news that tells the truth. Advertising revenue goes some way to support our mission, but this year it has not been enough.

If you've seen value in our reporting, please contribute what you can, so we can continue to produce accurate and meaningful journalism. For everyone who needs it.

Former Australian Prime Minister Paul Keating Mick Tsikas/AAP Image/PA Images
Down Under

Australian submarines deal with US could have 'deadly' consequences, former Prime Minister warns

The deal is part of a plan to bulk up Western muscle across the Asia-Pacific in the face of a rising China.

FORMER AUSTRALIAN PRIME minister Paul Keating has rubbished the country’s landmark nuclear-powered submarines deal, saying it unnecessarily targeted China and could have “deadly consequences”.

Australia announced on Monday it would buy up to five US submarines in an ambitious effort to bulk up Western muscle in the face of a rising China.

With the help of the United States and Britain, Australia will also embark upon a 30-year plan to build its own fleet of nuclear-powered subs.

Australian Prime Minister Anthony Albanese said the deal was the country’s biggest-ever military upgrade, while US President Joe Biden said it would ensure the region remained “free and open”.

But former prime minister Paul Keating has derided it as a “great misadventure”.

“History will be the judge of this project in the end, but I want my name clearly recorded among those who say it is a great mistake,” he said in a statement.

The former Labour prime minister – who led the country between 1991 and 1996 – said Australia had blindly followed the United States and Britain, and that China posed no tangible military threat.

“What would be the point of China wanting to occupy Sydney and Melbourne? Militarily? And could they ever do it,” he said.

“The question is so dumb, it’s hardly worth an answer.”

Keating said Australia was beginning a “dangerous and unnecessary journey” at the urging of the United States, and that this could carry “deadly consequences” if the country became tangled in future conflicts.

“Signing the country up to the foreign proclivities of another country – the United States – with the gormless Brits lunging along behind is not a pretty sight,” he said.

He also mocked the cost of the deal, which Australian officials have estimated at between 268 billion and 368 billion Australian dollars over three decades. Australian officials say the deal will create 20,000 jobs.

“For 360 billion, we’re going to get eight submarines,” Keating said.

“It must be the worst deal in all history.”

Acquiring submarines powered by nuclear reactors puts Australia in an elite club and at the forefront of US-led efforts to push back against Chinese military expansion.

While Australia has ruled out deploying atomic weapons, its submarine plan marks a significant new stage in the confrontation with China, which has been racing to strengthen its own sophisticated naval fleet.

With reporting by Press Association

Your Voice
Readers Comments
This is YOUR comments community. Stay civil, stay constructive, stay on topic. Please familiarise yourself with our comments policy here before taking part.
Leave a Comment
    Submit a report
    Please help us understand how this comment violates our community guidelines.
    Thank you for the feedback
    Your feedback has been sent to our team for review.

    Leave a commentcancel