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Greens senator Jordon Steele-John wants Australia to halve defence spending despite China threat

A political party that could decide who forms the next government of Australia wants the defence budget cut in half despite China’s thundering threats. 

The Greens have released a new policy demanding defence spending comprise just 1 per cent of Australia’s economy.

Senator Jordon Steele-John, the party’s peace and disarmament spokesman, wants defence spending slashed by $312billion by 2026 so more money can be spent on housing commission blocks and mental health services.

The Perth-based senator for Western Australia also wants American military bases in Australia to be closed, including the satellite and missile surveillance complex at Pine Gap near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory.

A party that could decide who forms the next government of Australia wants the defence budget cut in half despite China threatening to fire missiles (pictured is Greens senator Jordon Steele-John with party activists)

Senator Jordon Steele-John, the party's disarmament spokesman, wants defence spending slashed by $312billion by 2026 so more money can be spent on housing commission blocks and mental health services

Senator Jordon Steele-John, the party’s disarmament spokesman, wants defence spending slashed by $312billion by 2026 so more money can be spent on housing commission blocks and mental health services

‘We must re-commit to peace, disarmament and demilitarisation. Australia must work to peacefully resolve conflicts around the world,’ he said on Facebook.

The Greens have updated their website – under the headline ‘Australians want peace’, – to call for the Australian Defence Force to focus instead on tackling climate change. 

‘Close all foreign military bases in Australia,’ it said.

‘Renegotiate the US alliance with the terms of a new relationship focused on making Australia safer and a better global citizen.’

The Greens are pushing a pacifist line on defence spending despite China, under President Xi Jinping’s orders, regularly flying into Taiwanese airspace.

The Communist power is also vowing to control Taiwan by 2025, strongly hinting it would resort to war to achieve this, which would almost certainly force Australia to back a US-led mission.

Dr Andrew Carr, a senior lecturer at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said the Greens were assuming Australia wouldn’t need to defend itself.

‘The core of the Greens Party new “Defence Plan” is a single gamble: Australia chooses not to try and defend itself, and hopes that it won’t need to,’ he tweeted. 

‘That’s a valid gamble. Many countries in the world adopt it. But it is still a major gamble, and should be clearly justified.’ 

The Perth-based senator for Western Australia also wants American military bases in Australia to be closed, including the satellite and missile surveillance complex at Pine Gap near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory

The Perth-based senator for Western Australia also wants American military bases in Australia to be closed, including the satellite and missile surveillance complex at Pine Gap near Alice Springs in the Northern Territory

The Greens’ announcement was made less than five weeks after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the US and the UK had agreed to share nuclear submarine technology as part of a new AUKUS alliance designed to counter China.

The US hadn’t shared its nuclear know-how with another country since 1958 when it formed a Mutual Defence Agreement with Britain.

The Australian government will spend 18 months deciding whether to locally manufacture the American Virginia class submarine or the British Astute-class sub.

The announcement saw the Global Times newspaper, the propaganda arm of the Chinese Communist Party, on September 16 threaten a missile attack on Australia.

‘Chinese military experts warned that such a move will potentially make Australia a target of a nuclear strike if a nuclear war breaks out even when Washington said it won’t arm Canberra with nuclear weapons, because it’s easy for the US to equip Australia with nuclear weapons and submarine-launched ballistic missiles when Australia has the submarines,’ it said.

In the increasingly likely event of a hung Parliament, the Greens could decide who forms the next government of Australia. 

The Greens have updated their website - under the headline 'Australians want peace', - to call for the Australian Defence Force to focus instead on tackling climate change

The Greens have updated their website – under the headline ‘Australians want peace’, – to call for the Australian Defence Force to focus instead on tackling climate change

Greens leader Adam Bandt safely holds the electorate of Melbourne and the Morrison Government had a bare one-seat majority even before embattled MP Craig Kelly in February quit the Liberal Party.

The most recent Newspoll survey in September showed a 4.5 per cent swing against the Liberal-National Coalition which would see it lose 10 seats.

Opinion polls overestimated Labor’s support at the 2019 election.

But even a smaller swing against the Coalition in 2022 would see Labor pick up seats, but not enough to form majority government in its own right.

This would see Labor leader Anthony Albanese seek to rely on Mr Bandt and left-leaning independents to cobble together a minority government, as former prime minister Julia Gillard was forced to do in 2010.

The Greens, who managed to get a carbon tax policy turned into law, could do the same on defence policy.

The Greens announcement was made less than five weeks after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the US and the UK had agreed to share nuclear submarine technology as part of a new AUKUS alliance designed to counter China (pictured is Chinese President Xi Jinping at a People's Liberation Army parade in Hong Kong in 2017)

The Greens announcement was made less than five weeks after Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced the US and the UK had agreed to share nuclear submarine technology as part of a new AUKUS alliance designed to counter China (pictured is Chinese President Xi Jinping at a People’s Liberation Army parade in Hong Kong in 2017)

Dr Andrew Carr, a senior lecturer at the Australian National University's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said the Greens were assuming Australia wouldn't need to defend itself

Dr Andrew Carr, a senior lecturer at the Australian National University’s Strategic and Defence Studies Centre, said the Greens were assuming Australia wouldn’t need to defend itself

Australia’s new AUKUS alliance has led to the scrapping of the $90billion French Naval Group deal to build 12 diesel-powered submarines means Australia’s defence industry will need uranium.

The next generation of submarines, to be built in Adelaide, will be nuclear-powered but not nuclear-armed when they are ready in two decades.

In the 2021-22 Budget, Australia’s defence spending made up 2 per cent of gross domestic product but the Greens want that slashed to 1 per cent by 2026.

Senator Steele-John argued halving defence spending could see more money spent on  social housing and mental health.

‘This funding could be used to build 1 million homes, ending homelessness,’ he said.

‘We could improve ventilation in schools, making our kids safe. 

‘We could get dental and mental health into Medicare. We could increase income support so no one in the country needs to live in poverty.’ 

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