12 Months On, There Are Many More Reasons To Be Critical of the $368b AUKUS Sub Deal

By IPAN, March 12, 2024

  • AUKUS pact promises security but likely to make Australia a less prepared, bigger target
  • Diplomacy and peacebuilding should be our focus – not preparation for another unnecessary war
  • $368B expenditure for 8 nuclear-powered subs should instead be spent on urgent domestic needs

Experts continue to be alarmed by the AUKUS pact which faces not only huge political, infrastructure and budgetary obstacles but also contains significant strategic consequences. This could result in dragging Australia yet again into another unnecessary US-led war.

“Political changes surrounding upcoming elections in the US and the UK, and particularly the prospect of a return to a Trump presidency, contribute further to this dire predicament”, stated IPAN Spokesperson, Dr Vince Scappatura, Academic and Author.

“On the one hand, the Australian government has talked up the notion that Australia is facing an unprecedented and grave regional security environment. At the same time, the government has hitched the delivery of a key defence capability to a set of increasingly unpredictable and unreliable circumstances. It is not even clear that Australia will be able to maintain our current submarine capability before the convoluted AUKUS plan is rolled out.”

Many Australians are gravely concerned about AUKUS and the threat of a US-led war with China which is completely contrary to Australia’s interests. Almost 36,000 Australians have now signed a petition calling on the Australian Government to withdraw from AUKUS, stop the development of nuclear submarines and end defence integration with the US.

Most Australians do not want our country to take sides in the burgeoning great power strategic rivalry between the US and China – with two-thirds believing Australia should “stay as neutral as possible” in relation to the current tensions between both countries.

“Australia does not face the kinds of direct military threats to warrant the immense defence expenditure earmarked for AUKUS and other programs that are part of the current military build-up in Australia”, said Dr Scappatura.

If a war did break out, however, the extensive US warfighting presence on Australian territory and hosted by Australian defence facilities, including multiple air, naval and intelligence bases across northern and western Australia, will all become potential military targets for enemies of the United States”, said Dr Scappatura.

“There is a growing divide between the unwavering commitment to AUKUS by Australia’s political leadership in both major parties and large sections of the Australian public and civil society, including especially young Australians”, stated Dr Scappatura.

A range of high-profile former politicians, military leaders, public servants and academic experts have expressed serious misgivings about the risks, costs and implications of AUKUS

Dr Alison Broinowski AM, Former Australian diplomat, Academic, Author, Panel Member of IPAN’s 2020-2022 People’s Inquiry

“It is of significant concern that the Australian Government has not been properly informed about AUKUS, its costs or other details – which means we don’t really know what we have signed up to.”

Alan Behm, Head of the International and Security Program at the Australia Institute in Canberra

“On any objective analysis, the AUKUS submarine is not premised on Australia’s defence capability needs or Australia’s bipartisan preference to build and sustain such a capability.”

 Kellie Tranter, lawyer and human rights activist, Chairperson of IPAN’s 2020-2022 People’s Inquiry

“With minimal information and no public consultation, AUKUS was thrust upon the Australian people.  What was initially an agreement to share nuclear propulsion information it has now become the substantial integration of Australia’s military with that of the United States.  Australia has bound itself to America’s endless unsuccessful wars.

“On the sidelines sit the opportunistic politicians who helped to engineer the cooperation and who, having passed through the revolving doors, now directly benefit from its implementation.”

Annette Brownlie, IPAN Chairperson

“The housing and rental situation in Australia is catastrophic and our health and education systems are desperately in need of additional funding. We should be putting billions into these sectors, not into wasteful nuclear subs and all the associated costs.”

 Emeritus Professor Ian Lowe AO, Griffith University, Panel Member of IPAN’s 2020-2022 People’s Inquiry

“The nuclear waste issues raised by AUKUS will not sit well with Australians.  Where will this waste go and how will it be dealt with. There is still no solution to the major issue of nuclear waste.  Will it be dumped on land of First Nations’ peoples?”


 “We should end the Force Posture Agreement which provides the legal framework for the recent and significant expansion of US forward-deployed forces in Australia and that erodes our defence autonomy”, said Dr Scappatura.

“Rather than focus on what is required to uphold US regional military dominance, Australia needs to focus on determining what our own security interests are and what defence force is required to protect those interests independently,” stated Dr Scappatura.

“IPAN calls on the Australian Government to cease its needless and provocative preparations for major war and instead invest in diplomacy to achieve peaceful and mutually beneficial relations with all countries, including the US and China”, stated Dr Scappatura.

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