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The Budget Spending You’re Not Allowed to Know About

The second Albanese Budget has dropped, and it includes plenty of big-ticket items aimed at easing the cost of living, power bills and healthcare costs.

But buried in the fine print are numerous secret spending measures unable to be disclosed to taxpayers because they’re deemed “sensitive” or impossible to quantify.

Here’s a list of some of the hidden expenses.

Nuclear submarine building costs

The AUKUS deal with the US and the UK — which will allow Australia to build nuclear-powered submarines — will require both a new shipyard and a lot of know-how, according to the budget.

To that end, the government will provide a firm known as Australian Naval Infrastructure Pty Ltd with an equity injection over five years to begin designing and building a submarine construction yard. The company will also design a Skills and Training Academy in South Australia.

“The financial implications of this component of the measure are not for publication due to commercial sensitivities,” the Budget papers say.

‘Unique and critical’ defence capabilities

The Defence Department wants to “expand its sovereign defence capability and ensure the continued development and supply of equipment critical to Australia’s defence capability”.

To do that, the government will buy a company called CEA Technologies Pty Ltd. Information from the department contained elsewhere in the Budget reveals CEA Technologies can deliver “electronic warfare ranges design activities” and domestically developed radars.

The company will be bought in a number of phases until the government ends up with a 100%-ownership stake. The financial implications are being kept secret due to “commercial sensitivities”.

Nauru processing

It will cost an unknown amount to support “regional processing arrangements” in Nauru, the budget papers say. A number of different events, including “significant changes in the number of transferees” and possible litigation, “may incur a cost or generate cost reductions which are unquantifiable at this time”.

International lawsuits

The attorney-general’s portfolio needs more money to fund “Australia’s participation in a number of international legal actions”. The cost is not being revealed due to “legal and international relations sensitivities”.

Curbing harmful gambling

The government will continue to fund an initiative called BetStop — otherwise known as the national self-exclusion register. The cost isn’t being released due to “commercial sensitivities”.

Election IT upgrades

The Australian Electoral Commission needs to have its IT systems modernised — and the budget provides funding for that. But due to “ongoing commercial negotiations”, the cost is being kept secret.

Media access in remote communities

The cost of two Budget items dealing with broadcasting services access in remote communities is being kept secret due to “commercial sensitivities”.

The first is additional funding for the provision of those services in remote and First Nations communities. The second is to ensure that people who can’t access terrestrial digital broadcasting services can continue to access free-to-air TV.

First Nations wage-theft lawsuit

A class action brought on behalf of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander people who worked in the Northern Territory between 1933 and 1971 will cost an unknown amount. The suit was brought because the workers were allegedly underpaid or had their wages withheld. Until the matter is resolved, the cost will be unquantifiable.

Influencing the G7

The Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet will get ongoing funding to “strengthen international engagement and preserve Australia’s influence in key regional and economic [forums], including the G7, G20 and ASEAN”. The cost is being withheld due to “international relations sensitivities”.

Dealing with natural disasters

Natural disasters are difficult to predict, but that doesn’t mean the government won’t help pay for future recovery efforts. The Budget papers note that “the cost of … payments for future disasters is unquantifiable and therefore not included in the forward estimates”.

Source: The Mandarin