$368+ billion nuclear-powered raid on public finances will slash health, education and housing support for decades


14 March 2023 

Today’s $368+ billion nuclear submarine announcement will not only make Australia less safe, it will force deep cuts in critical spending on health, education, housing and First Nations justice for decades to come.

Australia's push to join the nuclear submarine club is already causing unrest with our key regional allies and adds fire to a growing regional arms race. These objections will only strengthen with the purchase of second hand Virginia class submarines, leaving Australia entirely reliant on US crews, docks, leadership and support to operate what are meant to be sovereign defence assets. 

Australian Greens Senator and Defence Spokesperson David Shoebridge said: 

“This is a 368 billion dollar nuclear-powered raid on public education, health, housing and First Nations justice that will starve core services for decades to come. 

“Unlike the Coalition, the Greens will not be cooperating with the government to force budget savings on critical public services to pay for these submarines.

“Until it is reversed, today’s announcement  will force Labor to deliver austerity budgets to funnel billions of dollars offshore to fund the US and UK nuclear submarine industries. 

“With this one decision, Labor is mortgaging our future in order to stoke regional tensions with a dangerous escalation in regional defence spending.

“What should send a shiver down every Australians’ spine is that the $368 billion budget is just the ADF’s starting bid, because we know major defence projects routinely blow their budgets and timelines. 

“The Greens’ budget concerns are only highlighted by the gamble with an untested hybrid UK design for the future submarines.

“This political deal makes Australia a third-wheel to the US’s regional ambitions while forcing us into an arms race that escalates tensions in our region, making us all less safe.

“This reckless alliance, cooked up by the Morrison government and backed by Labor, fundamentally compromises Australia’s sovereignty by aligning us with the military and nuclear strategies of the world’s biggest powers. 

“We won’t be able to operate, maintain or crew these military assets without the agreement of the US, which is the very definition of surrendering our sovereignty. 

“While Labor and the Coalition are in lock-step on more defence spending and nuclear powered submarines the great majority of Australians want a government focused on de-escalation, peace and critical domestic services. 

“The Greens will remain the voice for the majority of Australians who want us to work inside and outside Parliament to unravel this dangerous and expensive nuclear gamble,” Senator Shoebridge said.

Australian Greens Senator and Foreign Affairs, Peace and Nuclear Disarmament Spokesperson Jordon Steele-John said: 

“The Albanese Government’s announcement of the specifics of the AUKUS pact is a fundamental threat to Australian independence and our ability to collaborate in our region. It will undermine the global effort to fight the climate crisis and unleash a regional arms race that only serves to enrich global arms manufacturers.

“The AUKUS pact will see an unprecedented nuclearisation of our oceans and open Australia up to the risk of a nuclear disaster which would have effects that last generations. Make no mistake- there is not a single modern technology that has never failed. 

“It is especially egregious that the government would see fit to announce this deal so close to the 20th anniversary of the US leading Australia into an illegal invasion of Iraq for which they have never apologised or demonstrated that they have learned any of the lessons that come from that humanitarian disaster.

“This deal has been compromised from the start. It was dreamt up by a Morrison government on its way to electoral defeat and stewarded by US military advisors who got rich off telling the Australian government how they could best serve American Interests.

“This is clear in how Australia’s acquisition of nuclear submarines will play out. These submarines will require UK technology to function, American shipyards to build and US personnel to crew yet we are somehow supposed to believe this meets Australia’s interests.

“One day, once the US loses interest, the billions of people that make up the South Pacific will still live here and none of us want a repeat of Afghanistan and Iraq. The US is operating in the Asia Pacific with no regard for national interest or sovereignty of countries involved. 

“This is our home and as so many countries know, the US government is a bad house guest," Senator Steele-John said.