Labor Budget 2024-25: $10b to support nuclear shipyards of ageing US/UK empires

May 15, 2024
AUKUS Nuclear submarine in the deep sea, The US, UK, and Australia have announced a historic security pact in the Asia-Pacific, Australia new submarine deals with the US. France upset. Artists impression. Image iStock/ Homayon Kabir

Grassroots anti-AUKUS campaign, Labor Against War, has called on the Federal Labor Government to come clean about just how much it is pouring into US and UK coffers to rebuild their ageing nuclear shipyards, both of which build nuclear-armed submarines.

Marcus Strom, national convenor of Labor Against War, said: “It’s quite telling that the budget papers don’t reveal how much of the $2.6 billion earmarked next year for AUKUS is going straight into the pockets of the US military machine to rebuild their shipyards.

“It’s a travesty of democracy and transparency that we have to trawl through papers of the US Congress to find out how much of our tax dollars are going to fund the US war machine.

“That’s money that could be spent here on core Labor values: universal public Medicare, public housing, public education, and the transition to a renewable energy economy.”

Defence papers for Budget 2024-25 outline $2.591 billion for ‘nuclear-powered submarines’. An adjacent clarifying statement says that money includes “a fair and proportionate contribution to our AUKUS partners’ submarine industrial bases” without any detail.

US Congress papers provide more clarity on Australian expenditure, stating the US expects a “decrease net direct spending by $US4.5 billion ($A6.81 billion) over the 2024-2033 period primarily because much of the funding collected from Australia during that period”.

News reports this year show up to $5 billion headed to UK shipyards over the next decade.

“Combined, this is more than $10 billion over the coming decade headed to the nuclear shipyards of ageing empires on the other side of the planet,” Mr Strom said.

“Many pundits are sceptical that Australia will ever get these submarines and that the main point of AUKUS is to tie us into a permanent war-footing against China.”

The only new detail in the Australian budget papers mention “longer and more frequent nuclear-powered submarine visits to Australia”.

Marcus Strom said: “This reveals the true heart of AUKUS. It isn’t about security for Australians, but for Australia to increasingly act as a forward basing operation for US nuclear-powered and perhaps nuclear-armed vessels.

“This makes Australia a less, not more secure country. The US seems hidebound to drag us into a war with China. A Labor Government worth its salt should tell them where to go.”

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