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AUKUS (Land Acquisition) Bill

30 April 2024

The Hon. R.A. SIMMS (15:56): I rise the join my colleague in reiterating the Greens opposition to this bill, what is an attack on the principles of our democracy, an attack on the integrity of our foreign policy, but also a slap in the face of the people of our nation and the people of our state in the middle of a cost-of-living crisis.

We have spoken at length in this chamber about myriad crises the people of South Australia face at the moment. Imagine what could be done to tackle the cost-of-living crisis if we were spending the $368 billion that is going towards these war machines on actually helping people. Imagine the amount of housing you could build with $368 billion. Imagine the amount of money we could put into our public education system with $368 billion. Imagine what we could do to our health system with $368 billion. Imagine what we could do with our university system at a time when students are facing skyrocketing HECS debts. The sky is the limit in terms of what we could achieve with this level of investment, yet the limit of the Labor Party's ambition is building war machines, signing us up to a dirty deal with Washington.

It is absolutely outrageous, and I urge members of parliament who are voting for this bill and who are supporting this bill to go out into their communities and justify to the people of South Australia how this is money well spent, how this will help the South Australians who are sleeping on the street, sleeping in cars, sleeping in tents, because they cannot afford to find a place to live. Yet, meanwhile, over in Canberra we are seeing billions and billions of dollars of taxpayers' money being spent on this dud deal. It is an absolute outrage.

Budgets are about priorities. The Labor Party, in locking Australia into this dud deal, has demonstrated how out of touch it is with the people of our country. When I was at uni, we used to have an old chant, which was, 'Labor, Liberal are the same, only difference is the name.' I can tell you, when I look at the activities of the do-nothing Albanese government over in Canberra, never before has a truer statement been made. It is outrageous.

It is really disappointing to see Labor and the Liberals working in lockstep in this place to rush this bill through with such limited scrutiny, such little consideration of the implications for the management of public land, such little consideration about the nature of this deal and what it means for South Australia. This is a jobs mirage. We have heard these claims over and over and over again in South Australia. They do not eventuate. Instead, the South Australian government should be advocating for better job investment in our state that is not tied to making these war machines, that is not tied to locking Australia into an alliance with the United States.

Might I say, if there was surely a time to reconsider this approach, this is it. We are on the cusp of tying our foreign policy in Australia to Donald Trump. I have heard about going all the way with LBJ. Talk about going to hell in a handbasket with a basket case! That man is nuts. This is the person that Australians are meant to draw comfort from—Donald Trump, dictating Australia's foreign policy—us tying our national security to what goes on in Washington at a time when they have such a dangerous person vying for the presidency, such a dangerous person on the cusp of getting back into power over in Washington. This does not make our country safer. It actually creates more instability. It creates more danger for the people of Australia.

Indeed, children who are not yet born will spend all of their adult lives paying for this project. Rather than putting the money into public services—health, education, aged care, electricity—the Labor Party, with their mates in the Liberals, are locking Australia into this dud deal with the United States. It is really dangerous for Australia. It is something that is going to cause unrest in our region, and it is all about promoting the war industry and stoking the war-making ambitions of the United States. That is what this is about. It is an obscene waste of money—an absolutely obscene waste of money.

I think this parliament has an obligation to apply the blowtorch to this proposal, because, as my colleague the Hon. Tammy Franks has said, this land swap or land grab, or whatever you want to call it, is the first step as part of this project. There is considerable community concern about this. Lots of people in the community are saying, 'Hang on, why can't we find the money for health? Why can't we find the money for education? Why can't we fix the ramping crisis? Why can't we give every South Australian a roof over their head, when we can find hundreds of millions of dollars to fund these war machines?' Many Australians are saying, 'Why on earth is the Australian government tying Australia's foreign policy to the United States in this way? Why on earth would we outsource our foreign policy to Trump Tower?' What a joke! The Greens will be opposing this.