Today’s $368+ billion submarine announcement should send a shiver through the Illawarra, with Port Kembla earmarked as the preferred base for the new nuclear-powered submarines.
The huge public expenditure not only makes the Illawarra a potential nuclear target, it will force deep cuts in critical spending for the regions 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.
Wollongong Greens Councillor Cath Blakey said:
“Wollongong is a city with 100 years of peace activism. We have stood up to pig-headed Prime Ministers in the past, and we will do so again to say we want a peaceful city, that we say no to nuclearisation of our Port.
“I'm dismayed that the Labor government is leaking information about the preferred location of the nuclear submarine base. It shows not only how much they take the Illawarra for granted, but also outright contempt for our community. They're refusing to provide any information about how the floating nuclear power plants would be managed, overseen or their reactive waste managed.
“The AUKUS pact is an announcement that will bolster the US Submarine building industry, and won't deliver local jobs. Worse still it will jeopardise commercial investment in offshore wind power at Port Kembla,” Councillor Cath Blakey said.
Australian Greens Senator and Defence Spokesperson David Shoebridge said:
“This leaking of the Defence Department’s preferred submarine base treats the people of the Illawarra like mugs.
“Locating a nuclear submarine base in Port Kembla makes the Illawarra a potential target for nuclear attack, all with zero public consultation around the risks to the community.
“This is a 368 billion dollar nuclear-powered raid on funding for the regions, public education, health, housing and First Nations justice that will starve core services for decades.
“Unlike the Coalition, the Greens will not cooperate with the government to force budget cuts to the regions and 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.
“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,” Senator Shoebridge said.