Rising regional tensions, Australia committed to fulfill defense spending

HMAS Canberra (L02), a Royal Australian Navy landing helicopter dock ship, arrives at Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam for Rim of the Pacific 2016. Twenty-six nations, more than 40 ships and submarines, more than 200 aircraft and 25,000 personnel are participating in RIMPAC from June 30 to Aug. 4, in and around the Hawaiian Islands and Southern California.

Australia will meet its target to increase Defence spending ahead of schedule as it fends off cyber and security threats facing the country.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has long promised to lift the Defence budget to two per cent of gross domestic product in the 2020/21 financial year.

Describing his government as one of the biggest defence spenders in the nation’s peacetime history, Mr Morrison confirmed Australia would meet the mark.

“Not only are we going to hit that target, we’re going to hit it in the next financial year, and we’re going to hit it (months) ahead of time,” he said on Tuesday.

“By allocating such high levels of investment to our defence, we can meet these threats that Australia is facing.”

The confirmation came ahead of Mr Morrison promising a big boost in Defence spending, which he will do when releasing the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the new Force Structure Plan on Wednesday.

The government will give Defence $270 billion over the next decade – up from the $195 billion promised in 2016.

Mr Morrison wants the ADF to primarily focus its efforts on the Indo-Pacific and make sure it can deter threats and respond with credible military force.

Rising regional tensions and heightened risk from any miscalculation make it vital that Australia is able to respond with credible military force if it needs to.

It also needs stronger deterrence capabilities to “influence their calculus of costs involved in threatening Australian interests”.

It will look at new long-range weapons that could strike ships or land from thousands of kilometres away, test long-range hypersonic weapons, boost cyber capacity and surveillance, and build a network of satellites so Australia has an independent communications network.

Australian authorities have raised recent concerns over cyber attacks from China and Russia, terror cells throughout the Indo-Pacific and the shifting regional power balance between China and the United States.

The 2019/20 budget provided $38.7 billion for Defence, equivalent to 1.9 per cent of GDP.

Spending has steadily increased since the coalition came to power in 2013, when it was at 1.59 per cent of GDP. Increasing the domestic defence industry has bipartisan support.

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