Australians Unsure How to Pay for AUKUS Subs: Research

New polling research reveals Australians are confused about how to pay for the nuclear submarines as part of AUKUS. The nuclear submarines are estimates to cost between $268 billion and $368 billion.

Key findings:

None of the four options for meeting the cost of the AUKUS submarines were chosen by a majority of voters.

  • 34% chose cuts to other defence spending, the single most popular option
  • 18% chose cuts to government services
  • 15% chose increasing the deficit
  • 11% chose raising taxes
  • And nearly a quarter of people (22%) just did not know.

On the question of whether to raise taxation to pay for the AUKUS submarines, opposition to a tax increase was overwhelming.

  • Three in five (59%) are opposed to increasing taxes to pay for the AUKUS submarines, with three in 10 Australians (28%) supporting tax increases.
  • To assist the Australian community understand the complexity of the submarine issue, The Australia Institute has released two reports: a submarine “explainer”; and a report more expressly focused on the AUKUS partnership titled “Talk Us Through AUKUS”.

“While the government might have appeared decisive in bringing forward the AUKUS submarine announcement, it’s unclear how Australia will pay for the $368 billion 30-year program,” said Allan Behm, Director of International & Security Affairs at the Australia Institute.

“There is widespread confusion on how to pay for them. Very few want to raise taxes to do so, suggesting people want the defence they already have without paying for any more.

“The government has a lot of work to do to satisfy voters that the nuclear-powered submarines are worth paying for.”

The Australia Institute is a member of the Australian Polling Council. The polling methodology, long disclosure statement and margin of error for polling questions are included in the appendix of the report.

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