Shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie has said funding the AUKUS submarines ‘is going to take sacrifice’ but cost of inaction is ‘much higher’ #Shadow #defence #minister #Andrew #Hastie #funding #AUKUS #submarines #sacrifice #cost #inaction #higher #englishheadline


The Australian government will need to make some “tough decisions” to fund the acquisition of nuclear submarines under the AUKUS agreement, shadow defence minister Andrew Hastie has warned.

The decision to purchase three US Virginia-class submarines and construct a further eight AUKUS-class boats in collaboration with the US and UK is projected to cost between $268 billion and $368 billion between now and the mid-2050s.

While acknowledging the size of the expense, Andrew Hastie said the Coalition was committed to AUKUS because “the cost of inaction is much higher”.

“It is going to take sacrifice… this is a very expensive project,” Mr Hastie told Englishheadline Australia’s Sharri Markson.

“We will have to make some tough decisions, we will have to find money in the budget – that’s the task of the government come May.”

Mr Hastie, a former chair of the parliament’s powerful intelligence and security committee, said that he had written to Defence Minister Richard Marles calling for an AUKUS committee to be set up to elevate the issue above politics.

“I think the best way to steward this as a parliament is to have an institution like the intelligence committee, where we can have some of the really important discussions and debates about AUKUS behind closed doors, away from the eyes of our adversaries,” he said.

“That’s why I’ve suggested to him that we establish such a committee and of course we’d support that if he did.”

Nonetheless, Mr Hastie said the Coalition would be holding the government to account.

“We are going to ask hard questions about timing, and sequencing, and the budget. But we want this to succeed,” he said.

When asked what programs he thought ought to be cut in order to fund AUKUS, Mr Hastie said all government programs should be looked at.

“No one is advocating for specific cuts… we need to have a discussion around all government programs and find efficiencies where we can. Because there is always waste. We want to reform the bad and preserve the good,” he said.

But the shadow defence minister didn’t shy away from the fact there would be a trade-off.

“There are unlimited wants but there are only limited resources,” he said.

“We have to be realistic; we can’t just spend and spend and spend. We do have to have a budget, we have to keep to that budget, and that’s why we’ll be holding this government to account going forward.”

Australia set to become one of the world’s ‘most powerful navies’ with nuclear submarines

Earlier on Tuesday, The Australian’s foreign editor Greg Sheridan said there was “a lot of rubbish” in the defence portfolio that could be cut.

“The government is very clear defence spending will have to rise,” he said. 

“The defence strategic review will also recommend more expenditure, so we are going to have to cut quite a lot of things… But we spend $50 billion a year on defence.”

Sheridan went on to outline priorities that could be cut, starting with tanks.

“Throw away the tanks, cut the order for future tanks, don’t spend another dollar on tanks. Give all our existing tanks to Ukraine where they can be used,” he said

“Cut the order for heavy armour infantry, heavy armour infantry has no role in the maritime struggles we face.

“I wonder whether we need to build our own satellites, buying time on American satellites might be good enough.

“The Albanese government keeps saying it is committed to increasing the defence budget across time, but defence waste’s so much money it has got to get rid of all the waste first.”

English Headline

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