Australia's Navy chief has waded into politically-charged waters over a future submarines program, torpedoing the idea of mandating the percentage of local content.
The federal government has found itself in hot water after the French firm in charge of the $80 billion project back-pedalled on its promise to engage local contractors.
Vice Admiral Michael Noonan sank calls to enforce the amount of Australian input.
"I can't find what the ideal percentage is and I'm sure industry has difficulty too," he said in Canberra on Wednesday.
Naval Group has refused to say whether Australian firms will get half of the work on the submarines.
Former defence minister Christopher Pyne, who signed the contract with the company, said the government should insist on at least 60 per cent local content.
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 been hit by long delays and massive cost blowouts.
Deputy Labor leader Richard Marles said the government had disappointed the Australian people by sending work to France.
"The most precious resource we've got right now in Australia is submarine workers," he told reporters in Adelaide.
But Mr Marles was unable to say whether submarine work should be in South Australia or Western Australia, arguing that it was a matter for the government.
Australian Associated Press