The government's decision to award the construction contract for the next generation of the Royal Australian Navy's submarine fleet to France, with the boats to be mostly constructed in Adelaide, is probably the least worst decision we could expect from a desperate government trying to shore up its electoral position in South Australia.

The Prime Minister today announced that the DCNS Group's normally nuclear-powered Barracuda design would be adapted as a diesel-powered boat. The total cost of building 12 submarines over next quarter century is currently estimated to be around $50 billion, which in defence procurement terms means the final cost may well be closer to $100 billion.