Prime Minister Anthony Albanese’s decision to spend a staggering $368 billion on nuclear submarines as part of the AUKUS military pact shows where the Labor government’s priorities lie, the Antipoverty Centre said on March 14.
The federal government is choosing to spend big on militarism in a nonsensical war drive against China, rather than address people’s needs in a cost-of-living crisis.
The Antipoverty Centre put the choices bluntly: “$368 billion for five submarines over 30 years we can afford. Keeping people housed, fed and the supports they need to survive? Apparently we can’t afford.”
Albanese said last April that it would be “too expensive” to consider raising JobSeeker and other welfare payments, which are well below the poverty line.
Labor has also refused to agree to a good housing plan, only promising to deliver 30,000 social housing units — just 3% of the need over the next five years. It has not promised to invest in public housing.
“People are struggling to keep a roof over their heads as major parties prioritise investors over single parents keeping their kids housed and in school,” the Antipoverty Centre said.
The Centre also criticised Labor for refusing to back down on the Stage 3 tax cuts — a cut of $243 billion to the federal budget over 10 years — which will lead to greater inequality and widen the gender pay gap.
Combining the nuclear submarines spend and the Stage 3 tax cuts amounts to $611 billion that will not be spent on housing, healthcare, education or making the urgent climate transition.
Antipoverty Centre spokesperson Jay Coonan said Albanese is signing “a death warrant” for those doing it tough.
“Healthcare is unaffordable and public education is increasingly expensive, while private schools get more funding each year and social security is a system of punishment.
“But we can afford five fucking submarines.”
“There is no ‘national security’ when millions of people are under threat from poverty and climate change,” Coonan said.
The Guardian has created a calculator that shows what the billions could be better spent on, including: wage rises for aged-care workers; electrifying homes; investing in renewables; making university education free; adding dental and mental health to Medicare; increasing health and education funding; raising welfare payments; building houses; and a high-speed rail network.
Albanese’s plan to spend billions on militarisation entrenches inequality and pushes us all closer to war. He must be stopped.