By Marcus Hellyer*
There have been claims in the media and by various commentators that the cost of Australia’s future submarine program has gone up. The Defence Department insists that it hasn’t. So, who’s right?
Unfortunately, nothing is ever straightforward with the cost of defence projects. That’s partly because the department doesn’t release much information, particularly before it has an acquisition contract. It’s also because people are rarely talking about the same thing when throwing numbers around. A hypothetical project can cost $1 billion or $3.5 billion depending on how you present it. That’s just acquisition costs. Whole-of-life costs, which also include operating costs, are very different again. It’s easy to fall into the trap of comparing apples with gibbons.