Plan for 12 new submarines on hold

THE developing of 12 new submarines for Australia's armed forces has been put on hold while the Federal Government works on its defence white paper.

Defence Minister Senator David Johnston told a conference in Canberra the need for the vessels would be "re-examined" as the government puts together its sprawling dossier.

The minister said a plan would be presented to the government before year's end.

The Opposition's acting defence spokesman David Feeney [COR]accused the government of dumping an election promise made in May last year and affirmed in February.

The delayed decision means associated jobs in South Australia's defence industry were now potentially in jeopardy, according to the Opposition.

Designing the 12 submarines in Australia was expected to cost up to $40 billion.

In his speech, Mr Johnston said the government vowed only to make a decision within 18 months of the election. That decision was to wait.

"As part of the white paper process, we will re-examine the strategic objectives of the future submarine program including the number of submarines required at sea and therefore the total number of submarines," he said.