I am not onside with much of what Paul Keating said about China and the subs. Nonetheless, the idea of making UK-designed nuclear subs in South Australia from the 2040s onwards seems like pie-in-the-sky. Ironically, they will need to made from electricity produced by the wind and sun; both ends of the evolutionary progress of energy represented in the one time and place. Unless, hopefully, the whole green-energy house of cards has collapsed by then, before it can ruin the nation.
I can see advantage in having more frequent visits of US (and UK) nuclear subs. Anything which cements the alliance is good. Clearly that’s the main advantage of AUKUS. The US alone potentially stands between independent us and becoming a Chinese vassal state. Also, buying ready-made second-hand Virginia Class subs from the US seems like an excellent idea. It’s only when we get to the making part that everything falls apart. Still, that part is so long and many elections away that it certainly won’t happen. Like Chris Bowen’s 82 percent of electricity from renewables by 2030; like Scott Morrison’s net zero by 2050. Real life disrupts dreaming.
Of course, there is an option to relying on the Americans and thus buying into every bloodletting, treasure-wasting, absent-end game overseas adventure in which they engage, without ever declaring war.
That option is the Israeli option. That would require Australia to not only have nuclear power plants offshore in subs but onshore to keep the lights on. A novel thought. The next step would be to do a bit of enrichment and refuse to confirm or deny that we possessed nuclear weapons.
Short of that, we need a big brother to keep us safe. If that costs a few hundred million [Ed. oops! billions] on subs, and means partnering the US in every one of its misbegotten conflicts in every misbegotten part of the world, so be it. That’s the high price of freedom in a world which contains as many barbarians as it ever did.