Remember those 12 submarines that were going to create the jobs of the future? Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull talked up the advanced jobs the $50 billion project would create: “This is a great day for our navy, a great day for Australia’s 21st century economy, a great day for the jobs of the future,” he said at the announcement. On 7.30 with Leigh Sales he pushed the technological aspects:

“It drives Australian technology, it drives advanced manufacturing and all of the spin-offs that comes from that. You see, the defence industry operates at the very frontier of innovation and technology and so it serves to pull the rest of the economy along in that regard. There’s a lot of spin-off benefits.”

But how are the French talking about the submarine deal? This week’s Economist covers the boom in French military exports, quoting someone who worked on the deal characterising the Australian jobs as nothing more than “steel bashing”:

“More substantial was the decision by Australia’s government, late in April, to award DCNS, France’s naval shipbuilding firm, a huge tender to replace its ageing fleet of submarines with 12 Shortfin Barracuda A1 boats. The firm, founded in 1631, pushed aside rivals from Japan and Germany, nabbing a contract worth A$50 billion ($37 billion) over several decades. Much of the “steel bashing” will happen in South Australia, concedes one man who helped to lead the bid, but “hundreds” of high-end jobs for French designers, instructors, engineers and others are now secured in places like Cherbourg. Thales, a hefty defence-electronics firm, expects to provide the sonar system for the submarines, at roughly 100m euro a boat.”

So are the French getting the jobs of the 21st century or are we …?

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Peter Fray
Peter Fray
Editor-in-chief of Crikey
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