Australia Beefs Up Defences Facing Increasingly Hostile China

Joint Strike Fighter F-35  taxis into the hangars at RAAF Base Williamtown in April, 2019.
Joint Strike Fighter F-35 taxis into the hangars at RAAF Base Williamtown in April, 2019. (AFP)

 

For the first time since First World War, Canberra will invest in the fundamental enforcement of its military bases and the top of art military hardware.


On Tuesday night, when Finance Minister Josh Frydenberg presented the budget proposal for the next fiscal year, about a 45 minutes flight north of Sydney four Lockheed Martin F-35A Lightning II fighters landed in Williamtown base. The brand new aircraft arrived from the US producer's parking lot in Nevada.

With this multi-function and vertical landing capability Joint Strike Fighter, Australia can achieve superiority in the air over any adversary. The fighters are the first part of the package which is a part of the upgraded defense program. At least seventy such fighters are already in operation by the Royal Australian Air Force.

The government plans to spend 270 billion Australian dollars (US $212 billion) over the next decade on upgrading defense capabilities to“promote an open and peaceful Indo-Pacific, Treasury Department documents say.

This includes AU$747 million (US $585 million) to upgrade four military training areas in the Northern Territory where U.S. Marines have a temporary base.

"We need to be prepared for a world that is less stable and more contested"

The government announced in March that it would begin building its own guided missiles in close collaboration with the United States. The AU$1 billion ($784 million) project would produce the first Australian-manufactured missiles since the 1960s.

The government also plans to spend AU$1.3 billion ($1.02 billion) over a decade to enhance the ability of the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, the nation’s main spy agency, to address national security threats.

We need to be prepared for a world that is less stable and more contested, Treasurer Mr. Josh Frydenberg told Parliament as he outlined his economic blueprint for the fiscal year starting on July 1.

Western Australia mining industry is an economic engine of the country indicated the authors of the budget document.

Iron ore prices surged last week as steel mills, fearing further trade restrictions, rushed to lock in supplies after China suspended activities related to the China-Australia Strategic Economic Dialogue. It hit a new record price of $228 a metric ton ($251 a U.S. ton) on Tuesday.

Tuesday’s budget assumes that the price for iron ore will fall to $55 a metric ton ($60.50 a U.S. ton) by the end of the March next year.

Today we’re giving a very big thanks to Western Australia and the iron ore industry because we are seeing record prices, Mr. Fydenberg said, referring to the state where iron ore is mined.

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