The Guardian • Issue #2053


  • The Guardian
  • Issue #2053

Hannah Middleton

There is always money for the military, no matter how bad the budget bottom line is.

The Federal government plans to spend about one trillion dollars on eight nuclear submarines, but cannot find a few billion to properly deal with the economic, social, and environmental crises we are facing.

The recent Federal budget announced $4.1 billion over the next four years for long-range missiles, $3.8 billion for “northern base infrastructure,” $900 million for “defence innovation,” and $400 million for a new bonus to defence personnel.

The budget makes it clear that military spending will increase from $49 billion to $52.5 billion in the 2023-24 budget and to $57.6 billion within four years. This is an increase from 1.93 to more than 2.3 per cent of GDP in a decade.

However, this is peanuts compared to the eye watering amounts of money to be squandered on AUKUS.

The US-UK-Australia AUKUS nuclear submarine pact will subsidise US and UK shipyards and arms corporations to the tune of $368 billion dollars – $32 million a day for 32 years.

A Parliamentary Budget Office (PBO) analysis, requested by the Greens, has revealed there is an additional $122 billion for a separate 50 per cent contingency fund. This means the real cost is going to be closer to half a trillion dollars.

The Federal government has admitted it has no idea how much the total cost of the AUKUS program will be.

“The total costs associated with the program will not be known until design and production processes are settled and commercial and other arrangements are finalised between governments and delivery partners,” a Defence Department statement says.

Defence Minister Marles has given the military a blank cheque, saying: “It’s going to be more, but how much more is impossible to say at this point.”

It is possible, however, to say how very much the government has already decided to spend on munitions that will make Australians poorer, but not safer.

The Budget includes $4.5 billion – $483 million a year for 10 years – for a new Australian Submarine Agency that will manage the nuclear submarine program.

Included in this cost is $15.3 million to establish a body “to provide independent assurance … through periodic health checks and proactive advice.”

The Health Department will get $3.1 million to “provide radiation health and safety advice.”

Setting up a new Australian Nuclear-Powered Submarine Safety Regulator and developing non-proliferation safeguards with the International Atomic Energy Agency will cost $87.2 million over two years.

$127.3 million over four years has been allocated to create 4000 new university places to build the skills needed for AUKUS. Also on the agenda are plans for the recruitment of tens of thousands more people, in and out of uniform, to sustain the war machine.

Over the next two years the government plans to spend $2.4 million on developing international treaties and $52.7 million on providing Foreign Affairs with “international policy advice and diplomatic support.”

A ridiculously small $5.2 million over two years has been allocated to manage the nuclear waste from the submarines with unknown technologies at an undecided location.

Dwight Eisenhower’s 1953 warning that militarisation costs a society not just money but also “the sweat of its labourers, the genius of its scientists, the hopes of its children” remains true.

He said: “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired signifies, in the final sense, a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and not clothed … . The cost of one modern heavy bomber is this: a modern brick school in more than 30 cities … . It is two fine, fully equipped hospitals … . We pay for a single destroyer with new homes that could have housed more than 8,000 people.”

We need to build a huge people’s peace movement to get AUKUS cancelled and to give Australians a peace budget for a sustainable future.

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