News Cabinet ministers summoned to secret Canberra meeting on hot issue

Cabinet ministers summoned to secret Canberra meeting on hot issue

Senior ministers have reportedly held a secret meeting before a significant development. Photo: AAP
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A number of federal cabinet ministers were reportedly summoned to a secret meeting in Canberra ahead of a major international development expected out of the US.

Some cabinet members were granted border exemptions to urgently fly to Canberra for Wednesday’s meeting, The Sydney Morning Herald and The Age have reported, quoting sources familiar with the development.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Affairs Minister Marise Payne are in Washington for meetings and reportedly joined the meeting via a secure connection.

Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese and three other members of his front bench were also briefed on the sensitive matter, the newspapers report.

The ABC reported late on Wednesday night that the meeting discussed creating a nuclear-powered submarine fleet and scrapping a $90 billion program to build up to 12 French-designed submarines.

“The ABC understands Australia will use American and British technology to configure its next submarine fleet in a bid to replace its existing Collins class subs with a boat more suitable to the deteriorating strategic environment,” it reported.

Australia, the US and Britain are also expected to announce a new trilateral security partnership on Thursday.

It is expected this announcement will be made at 7am Australian time.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison will travel to Washington next week for a meeting of the Quad alliance of the US, India Japan and Australia.

The Quad is seen as a counter to China’s rising assertiveness in the Asia-Pacific region.

Mr Morrison will have talks with US President Joe Biden, with security, terror threats, Afghanistan and climate change key issues the pair will discuss.