Payne coy on subs decision timing

The federal government is considering selling off the nation's submarine builder, a report says.

Defence Minister Marise Payne won't say whether the government will announce the successful bidder to build Australia's new submarine fleet before a likely July election.

Japan, Germany and France are involved in a competitive evaluation process for Defence's largest-ever procurement project.

"An announcement is going to be made in 2016," Senator Payne told reporters in Canberra on Thursday.