Australia to Spend $875 Million on Upgrades to Defence Facilities

The Australian government will outlay $875 million (US$655.6 million) to upgrade 234 defence facilities across the country. Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the program would also be an economic boon for regional communities. “The defence estate is an important national asset and is an integral part of enabling defence to meet its force capabilities,” he said in comments obtained by AAP. “Just weeks ago, we announced our plans to grow the size of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) across all the Army, Royal Australian Navy, and Air Force, and we know that if we are to attract additional personnel, we need to ensure our facilities are safe and fit for purpose,” he added. The money will be spent from 2022-23 and is earmarked to create around 1,600 jobs. An Australian soldier from 7 Brigade operates a machine gun through the turret of a truck as part of exercise Talisman Sabre in Rockhampton, Australia, on July 9, 2015. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images) On March 10, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Dutton, announced the biggest expansion to the ADF in 40 years by increasing personnel numbers from 59,095 to 80,000 by 2040. The upgrades will be split across 79 projects in New South Wales ($298 million), 41 in Queensland ($166 million), 34 in Northern Territory ($112 million), 29 in Victoria ($122 million), 28 in South Australia ($106 million), and 23 in Western Australia ($71 million). The projects will go to tender in a few months. The Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) Shadow Minister for Defence Brendan O’Connor accused the government of “dressing up” previously announced projects. “Base upgrades flagged today were announced six years ago in the 2016 Defence White Paper and again in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, but they have yet to be delivered,” he said in a statement. “The government, in its attempt to push a national security agenda, is presenting routine works as a new announcement.” O’Connor said the ALP supported upgrades and procurement projects for the ADF but would act faster to ensure the ADF had its capabilities updated “on time and on budget.” “Today’s reannouncement confirms that after six defence ministers in eight years the Prime Minister remains focussed on announcements but no follow up,” he said. Defence procurement has been an ongoing issue for successive Australian governments. The lack of genuine external threats in recent decades—prior to Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea—has relegated major defence projects to being major employment generators. A prime example was the 2015 decision to switch from buying ready-made Soryu-class submarines from Japan, to building Barracuda-class submarines from France. A $90 billion project which involved customising brand new vessels and building it from the ground-up in France and in Adelaide in the state of South Australia. The project ended up being torpedoed once AUKUS was announced for new U.S.- and UK-backed nuclear submarines. But questions remain over the procurement timeline. Lincoln Parker, chair of the Liberal Party’s Defence and National Security Policy Branch, said the government needed to do everything to ensure Australia was not vulnerable. “We need submarines. Are there possibilities for us to lease or buy off-the-shelf?” he told The Epoch Times. “There are a bunch of Los Angeles-class submarines (in the U.S. Navy) due to be retired or refitted.” “Could we do a deal with the Americans whereby we lease one of their submarines—they crew half of it, and we crew the other half so we can get trained up? Then we have one or two LA-class submarines operating out of Australia,” he added. “I think it would provide us with capability in a much shorter amount of time, and at least have our adversaries thinking twice.” Follow Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]

Australia to Spend $875 Million on Upgrades to Defence Facilities

The Australian government will outlay $875 million (US$655.6 million) to upgrade 234 defence facilities across the country.

Defence Minister Peter Dutton said the program would also be an economic boon for regional communities.

“The defence estate is an important national asset and is an integral part of enabling defence to meet its force capabilities,” he said in comments obtained by AAP.

“Just weeks ago, we announced our plans to grow the size of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) across all the Army, Royal Australian Navy, and Air Force, and we know that if we are to attract additional personnel, we need to ensure our facilities are safe and fit for purpose,” he added.

The money will be spent from 2022-23 and is earmarked to create around 1,600 jobs.

Epoch Times Photo
An Australian soldier from 7 Brigade operates a machine gun through the turret of a truck as part of exercise Talisman Sabre in Rockhampton, Australia, on July 9, 2015. (Ian Hitchcock/Getty Images)

On March 10, Prime Minister Scott Morrison, and Dutton, announced the biggest expansion to the ADF in 40 years by increasing personnel numbers from 59,095 to 80,000 by 2040.

The upgrades will be split across 79 projects in New South Wales ($298 million), 41 in Queensland ($166 million), 34 in Northern Territory ($112 million), 29 in Victoria ($122 million), 28 in South Australia ($106 million), and 23 in Western Australia ($71 million).

The projects will go to tender in a few months.

The Australian Labor Party’s (ALP) Shadow Minister for Defence Brendan O’Connor accused the government of “dressing up” previously announced projects.

“Base upgrades flagged today were announced six years ago in the 2016 Defence White Paper and again in the 2020 Force Structure Plan, but they have yet to be delivered,” he said in a statement. “The government, in its attempt to push a national security agenda, is presenting routine works as a new announcement.”

O’Connor said the ALP supported upgrades and procurement projects for the ADF but would act faster to ensure the ADF had its capabilities updated “on time and on budget.”

“Today’s reannouncement confirms that after six defence ministers in eight years the Prime Minister remains focussed on announcements but no follow up,” he said.

Defence procurement has been an ongoing issue for successive Australian governments.

The lack of genuine external threats in recent decades—prior to Beijing’s aggression in the South China Sea—has relegated major defence projects to being major employment generators.

A prime example was the 2015 decision to switch from buying ready-made Soryu-class submarines from Japan, to building Barracuda-class submarines from France. A $90 billion project which involved customising brand new vessels and building it from the ground-up in France and in Adelaide in the state of South Australia.

The project ended up being torpedoed once AUKUS was announced for new U.S.- and UK-backed nuclear submarines. But questions remain over the procurement timeline.

Lincoln Parker, chair of the Liberal Party’s Defence and National Security Policy Branch, said the government needed to do everything to ensure Australia was not vulnerable.

“We need submarines. Are there possibilities for us to lease or buy off-the-shelf?” he told The Epoch Times. “There are a bunch of Los Angeles-class submarines (in the U.S. Navy) due to be retired or refitted.”

“Could we do a deal with the Americans whereby we lease one of their submarines—they crew half of it, and we crew the other half so we can get trained up? Then we have one or two LA-class submarines operating out of Australia,” he added.

“I think it would provide us with capability in a much shorter amount of time, and at least have our adversaries thinking twice.”


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Daniel Y. Teng is based in Sydney. He focuses on national affairs including federal politics, COVID-19 response, and Australia-China relations. Got a tip? Contact him at [email protected]