Australia to increase defense spending by 40% over 10 years

By Colin Packham

Australia will boost defense spending by 40% over the next 10 years, buying long-range military assets that will be focused on the Indo-Pacific region, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Wednesday.

In a speech that threatens to inflame tensions with China, Morrison said Australia will spend A$270 billion ($186.5 billion) over the next 10 years to acquire longer-range strike capabilities across air, sea and land.

Australia in 2016 promised to spend A$195 billion over the next 10 years.

Morrison said Australia will also pivot its military focus to the Indo-Pacific region.

"We want a Indo-Pacific free from coercion and hegemony. We want a region where all countries, large and small, can engage freely with each other and be guided by international rules and norms," Morrison said in a speech in Canberra.

Although Morrison did not name China, Australia's muscular posturing towards the Pacific is seen as a signal that Canberra intends to be more assertive in its dealings with Beijing and less reliant on the United States.

"China is the unspoken elephant in the room," said Sam Roggeveen, director of the Sydney-based Lowy Institute's International Security Program. "While it's absolutely right that we focus on our region, but buying long-range missiles - particularly ones for land targets - could invite a response from Beijing."

Morrison said Australia would first buy 200 long-range anti-ship missiles from the U.S. Navy for A$800 million, and would also consider developing hypersonic missiles that can travel at least at five times the speed of sound.

The defense spend will please U.S. President Donald Trump, who has accused allies of taking Washington's protection for granted.

But Australia's defense spending will do little for relations with China - its largest trading partner. The two nations have butted heads as both compete for influence in the Pacific.

Already dealt a blow by Australia's 2018 decision to ban China's Huawei from its nascent 5G broadband network, bilateral ties have in recent months been soured by Canberra's call for an independent inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus pandemic.

Last month, Australia said a "sophisticated state-actor" has spent months trying to hack all levels of the government, political bodies, essential service providers and operators of critical infrastructure.

Australia sees China as the chief suspect, three sources told Reuters.

China denies it is behind the spate of cyber-attacks, and the souring of ties has spilled over to trade.

China has suspended beef imports from four of Australia’s largest meat processors and imposed hefty tariffs on barley, although both sides say that is unrelated to the latest spat.

© Thomson Reuters 2020.

©2020 GPlusMedia Inc.

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0 ( +3 / -3 )

Good on Australia for standing up to bullies.

Banning Huawei from their 5G network was a smart move (despite them being valuable sponsors for the Canberra Raiders)

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Looks like the Aussies aren't going to let China bully, threaten or buy them into subservience.

6 ( +8 / -2 )

Australia's negative posturing because of Trump's influence is not good. Australia is too reliant on China and needs to stay in its lane.

-10 ( +0 / -10 )


If China ever decided to lay claim to Hamilton Island or Tasmania being their territory, we should bow deeply & give it to them.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

We have a Chinese poster here that claims Australia isn't an an actual country? Well come and get it! **** you. You whip me I will whip you back.

5 ( +5 / -0 )

Just because you trade with them doesn’t mean you have to kowtow to them.

The problem lies with China, its expansionist, colonial and aggressive military actions are forcing their neighbours to greater military spending and its failure to consider anyone else’s interests are alienating even those who were friendly or had common interests.

4 ( +4 / -0 )

f China ever decided to lay claim to Hamilton Island or Tasmania being their territory, we should bow deeply & give it to them.

Hell no.The problem is that Trump needs the Chinese to buy American produce and to help with the upcoming election, so he's restricted to talking about the "Chinese flu," for fear of losing their business and destroying the farmers and their livelihoods since they vote for him en masse. Unfortunately he's gotten Australia involved,when Oz and China relations have been shaky from time and coaxing Australia to proclaim investigations to protect his position was disingenious.America is a "Superpower" and can go tit for tat with China if need be.Australia isn't and buying a whole bunch of "military assets" to flex is unAustralian and unnecessary.There's more than one way to skin a cat.

-4 ( +0 / -4 )

"China is the unspoken elephant in the room," 

High time we started speaking about them!!

A brutal, dictatorial and regressive regime like China should not be allowed to go unpunished.

3 ( +3 / -0 )

Australia has been under defended for a very long time.  Their land mass is vast but their army is tiny and their navy not very big either.   Decent air force though.  While living there I often heard Aussies claim their deserts would stop any invader before they could take the whole country but I have to shake my head at that one.  Flat open terrain is perfect for high speed mechanized warfare and Australia has only 50 something tanks in their whole army.  The article does have one thing wrong.  The Aussies are trying to tie their military more closely to that of the US so their forces and equipment  are interchangeable with similar US units and equipment to allow their forces to use US supply support.  And don't keep up this nonsense about the Aussie defense policies being driven by Donald Trump.  They are not.  A lot of these decisions considerably predate the current occupant of the White House and are based on hard calculations of their national survival in the face of an increasingly hostile and hegemonic China.  Xi Jinping is the problem, not the US.  Xi is supremely insecure and seeks even greater control over anything and everything he can grasp.  He doesn't have the quiet confidence of his immediate predecessors and if you study his life and the surprising way he came to power, and if you understand the many competing factions and patronage networks within the CCP, some of it is understandable.  Not acceptable, but understandable.

0 ( +0 / -0 )

China can't be trusted. 40% probably isn't enough, but it is a start.

1 ( +1 / -0 )

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