Cormann fronts Senate hearing over subs

Federal finance minister Mathias Cormann. Photo

Federal finance minister Mathias Cormann. Photo

Canberra – AAP Finance minister Mathias Cormann is expected to face a grilling about the government’s handling of a $25 billion-plus contract for a new submarine fleet when he fronts a parliamentary hearing.

Senator Cormann has ministerial responsibility for the government-owned shipbuilder ASC which, until a Liberal leadership spill vote a fortnight ago, looked likely to be excluded from competing for the project.

The government now wants the Adelaide-based company to be involved in what it says is a competitive evaluation process.

Prime minister Tony Abbott on Monday revealed he has had detailed discussions with Japan about supplying Australia’s next-generation submarines.

That was because the Japanese made the best large conventional submarine in the world, he said.

But Mr Abbott continues to insist that no deal has been struck with Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe to buy 12 Soryu-class vessels.

There will be more detailed discussions with the Japanese as well as the Germans and the French, Mr Abbott says.

A decision will be made by end of 2015.

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