Prime Minister Scott Morrison is expected to appear at a virtual event alongside US President Joe Biden and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson to make an international security announcement.
Officials at the White House and 10 Downing Street said the three leaders would take part in a “national security event” at 7am AEST on Thursday.
Federal cabinet ministers were summoned to a secret meeting in Canberra on Wednesday ahead of the announcement.
Some cabinet members were granted border exemptions to urgently fly to Canberra for Wednesday’s meeting, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age reported, quoting sources familiar with the development.
Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne are in Washington DC for meetings and reportedly joined the meeting via a secure connection.
Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and three other members of his frontbench were also briefed on the sensitive matter, the newspapers report.
The Australian Financial Review on Wednesday evening cited a senior government source as saying “Australia was going to buy nuclear-powered submarines”.
It’s expected the US will help Australia secure the submarines, including basing some of their own advanced submarines out of Perth’s naval base.
The move could also see a $90 billion program for 12 French-built subs, which are now a decade behind schedule, scrapped.
US publication Politico reported that US President Joe Biden was set to announce a new working group – to be known as AUUKUS or AUKUS – to allow the three countries to share technology including cyber, artificial intelligence, underwater systems and long-range strike capabilities.
Prime Minister Scott Morrison will travel to Washington DC next week for a meeting of the Quad alliance of the US, India, Japan and Australia.
– with Reuters