Submarines to be reviewed every quarter

By AAP Newswire

The Australian and French governments have agreed to review local involvement in the future submarines program in every quarter of 2020.

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds spoke with French counterpart Florence Parly on Friday and they agreed to the reviews amid controversy about the involvement of local contractors in the $80 billion project to deliver a new submarine fleet.

"We acknowledge the Future Submarine Program is key for both our countries and our strategic partnership," the ministers said in a joint statement on Saturday.

"We are committed to work together to make it a success."

The federal government found itself in hot water after the French firm Naval Group back-pedalled on its promise to engage local contractors in half the work.

Home Affairs Minister Peter Dutton had earlier dismissed criticism of the program as "a lot of kerfuffle".

"The thing is in design stage, the architects are working on it at the moment, and then they'll put the contracts out," Mr Dutton said on Friday.

"There's a lot of kerfuffle about this but when you strip it back, that's exactly what you would expect."

Former defence minister Christopher Pyne, who signed the contract with the Naval Group, said the government should insist on at least 60 per cent local content.

"The government needs to hold their feet to the fire to ensure they fulfil their obligation," he told The Australian.

Mr Pyne said in 2016 that up to 90 per cent of the work could be done in Australia, but did not insist on a specific local content target in the agreement.

The submarine project has already been hit by long delays and massive cost blowouts.

"In every direction this thing is going the wrong way," Labor's defence spokesman Richard Marles said.