The government will establish a new agency and a new regulator as part of its commitment to delivering Australia’s conventionally armed nuclear-powered submarines.
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The Australian Submarine Agency (ASA) will be established by Executive Order and be responsible and accountable for the management and oversight of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine program.
Work to deliver the pathway is already underway and remains a key priority for the government, in line with the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review.
In leading the delivery of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines, the ASA will be responsible for cradle-to-grave management, including:
- technical governance
- sustainment, and
ASA will also enable the necessary policy, legal, non-proliferation, workforce, security and safety arrangements.
Royal Australian Navy, led by the Chief of Navy, will continue to be responsible for training submariners and operating Australia’s submarines.
The Nuclear-Powered Submarine Taskforce, which currently operates as part of Defence, will transition to the ASA on 1 July 2023.
It will be headed by a Director General, the appointment of whom will be announced by the government at the appropriate time.
The government will also establish a new independent statutory regulator, the Australian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Safety Regulator.
The new regulator will have the functions and powers necessary to regulate the unique circumstances associated with nuclear safety and radiological protection across the lifecycle of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarine enterprise.
This includes associated infrastructure and facilities.
The regulator will be independent of the Australian Defence Force’s chain of command and directions from the Department of Defence.
This will be a fundamental part of a system of regulation, which will work with existing Australian regulators to support the safety of our submariners, Australian and international communities, and the environment.
Both the ASA and the Australian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Safety Regulator will be non-corporate Commonwealth entities within the Defence portfolio and report directly to the Minister for Defence.
Minister for Defence Richard Marles said the government was delivering on its commitment to the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, which is the single biggest investment in our defence capability in our history.
“The establishment of the Australian Submarine Agency and the Australian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Safety Regulator are critical elements of delivering this game-changing capability and will ensure the safe and successful implementation of the pathway for Australia’s acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines,” Mr Marles said.
“The ASA will be responsible and accountable for delivering the ambitious program to acquire Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines.
“A specialised and dedicated regulator – which will be independent of Defence and the Australian Defence Force – will ensure we have the highest standards of nuclear safety and radiological protection across the lifecycle of Australia’s nuclear-powered submarines.”