By Matt Siegel
Sources have said Australia is strongly considering buying a version of the 4,000-tonne Soryu-class submarine built by Japan's Mitsubishi Heavy Industries and Kawasaki Heavy Industries to replace its aging Collins-class fleet.
But Abbott on Sunday promised shipbuilder ASC Ltd the option to bid for the next-generation submarines, worth as much as A$40 billion ($31 billion), in an attempt to shore up support ahead of a challenge to his leadership from within the ruling Liberal Party. He survived the revolt during a vote earlier on Monday.
Abbott had pledged ahead of his election in 2013 that up to 12 submarines would be built at ASC in South Australia state, before beginning to back-pedal last year, signaling that cost and timely delivery were paramount.