The Australian government is prepared to lease nuclear submarines from the US while its own fleet is being built, Defence Minister Peter Dutton says.
Last week, Australia entered into a surprise regional security pact with the US and the UK, known as AUKUS, which includes building US nuclear submarines but these will not be ready until the late 2030s.
Asked on Sky News' Sunday Agenda program whether the government would consider leasing nuclear submarines in the interim, Mr Dutton said: 'The short answer is yes'.
'There is all of that discussion to take place in the next 12 to 18 months,' he said.
Defence minister Peter Dutton (pictured) has confirmed the government will consider leasing nuclear submarines while new ones are built
'The talk that you can just buy a nuclear-powered submarine off the shelf, of course, is just not accurate or correct.'
He said the Chinese are pumping out submarines, frigates and aircraft carriers at a record rate and so the rest of the world has stepped up its own production.