Australia opens door to Swedish subs export

Australia's opposition demanded on Wednesday that Sweden should not be excluded from a major new submarine-building programme, countering Prime Minister Tony Abbott's government.

Australia opens door to Swedish subs export
An artist impression of what a new-generation submarine could look like. Photo: Saab

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Bill Shorten, leader of Australia's Labor Party presented a bipartisan proposal to the $50 billion AUS (329 billion kronor, $38.8 billion) submarine project, including inviting Sweden – alongside Germany, France and Japan – to submit general proposals before formal tenders are reduced to one or two, reported Reuters.

“Under this process, Australia would invite the most prominent, relevant submarine designers from Germany, France, Japan and Sweden to participate,” Shorten said at Australia's Future Submarine Summit held in Adelaide on Wednesday.

Swedish defence company Saab has previously expressed a strong interest in building the submarines alongside Adelaide-based Australian shipbuilder ASC.

But as The Local reported in February, Abbott of Australia's Liberal Party accused Sweden – who worked with Australia to build the six ageing Collins-class vessels being replaced – of failing or design any new models for the past two decades as his government invited only France, Germany and Japan to compete to build new submarines.

“The last Australian submarine came off the production line in about 2001…the last Swedish submarine came of the production line in 1996, so it's almost two decades since Sweden built a submarine,” he said at the time.

Saab did not want to comment the new developments when approached by Swedish news wire TT.

"Australia is an important market to us…But we will not comment on the current political situation," press spokesman Sebastian Carlsson said.

Sweden is one of the few countries in the world currently developing a next-generation submarine, and Saab has previously said that "a partnership would provide Australia with an opportunity to have an advanced submarine which meets Australia’s unique requirements."

Australia is looking to build 12 submarines that feature similar long-range features to those already used by the Australian navy, but with superior stealth and sensor performance.

Under Shorten's proposal, Australia would invite Sweden, Germany, France and Japan to make initial proposals. After a 12-18 month process one to two submarine builders would then be selected to provide formal tenders.

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Rare map found in Sweden to be displayed in Australia

A rare map found in an attic in Sweden in 2010 is going on display in Australia following a delicate conservation process.

Rare map found in Sweden to be displayed in Australia
Photo: National Library of Australia

It was purchased by the National Library of Australia in 2013, and after a short exhibition period at the time, has undergone a thorough conservation effort. Now, it's ready to be displayed again.

The map is called Archipelagus Orientalis, sive Asiaticus, Latin for ‘The Eastern or Asian Archipelago’, and was created in 1663 by renowned Dutch cartographer Joan Blaeu. Blaeu was the official cartographer of the Dutch East Indian Company, and his works portrayed the extent of Dutch power in the 17th century.

It depicts Hollandia Nova, or New Holland, as mainland Australia was known before the British settlement. All subsequent maps of New Holland were based on this work by Blaeu, and the map is considered “the birth certificate of New Holland” by many in the West.

A text printed on the map tells the story of explorer Abel Tasman’s two voyages in 1642 and 1644. Tasman is known for being the first European to reach Van Diemen’s Land (now Tasmania), New Zealand, and to sight the Fiji islands, and his sighting of Tasmania in 1642, is depicted on the map.

The map being prepared for transport. Photo: National Library of Australia.

It is one of only four known copies, and the only one to have come to light since the 17th century. Its existence was not known of until the map was discovered in an attic in Stockholm in 2010. 

According to the National Library, there are no records of the map in any catalogues since it was printed, with the exception of one listing in the collection of antiquarian Thulin of Amsterdam, as early as 1950. Exactly how the map made its way to Sweden is unknown.

The map was first put to auction for a modest price at a small auction house in Sweden, and was acquired by a private vendor who recognized it as a Blaeu and offered it to the National Library of Australia. In 2013, it was purchased in 2013 with the help of the Australian government. The amount paid by the Library was not made public, but the map has been described as “priceless”. An earlier print of the map sold this year for £ 248,750 ($ 321,708) by Sotheby’s.

The Archipelagus Orientalis after the conservation process. Photo: National Library of Australia

It was first displayed at an exhibit in 2013, but further conservation work was needed because the paper had been damaged by the corrosive green pigment used in the production of the map, verdigris.

The Library successfully raised funds in 2014 to complete the process. Experts removed the varnish, which had become yellow and brittle, repaired the backing of the map, and reattached and the original display rods.

The map was then digitized and a custom-made housing was developed for it.

It will be on display until mid-next year at the National Library of Australia in Canberra.

The map isn’t the only rare discovery to have been made in a Swedish attic. Recently, a watch found by a man cleaning up after his father’s death made headlines for breaking records in the auction world.