The Australian government announced a significant increase in military spending and a focus on acquiring long-range missiles.
What we know:
- The Australian government pledged to spend $186 billion on defense spending over the next decade – a 40% increase. Prime Minister Scott Morrison spoke at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra on Wednesday. He said that Australia is facing its toughest situation since before World War II, and they are preparing “for a post-COVID world that is poorer, that is more dangerous, and that is more disorderly.”
- Morrison did not say the budget increase was a response to China. However, he did mention that the “risk of miscalculation and even conflict” was growing in the Indo-Pacific region. China has been engaged in territorial disputes recently with its border with India, and in the South China Sea and the East China Sea. Rory Medcalf, head of the National Security College at the Australian National University, said these plans were in preparation for a future with a more aggressive China and a less reliable U.S. partner.
- Morrison said that they would spend much of the budget on upgrading arms and equipment. Australia will partner with the U.S. Navy to buy 200 long-range missiles, which have a range of 229 miles (370 kilometers). The military will also invest in a hypersonic weapons system and cyber warfare tools.
- “This is all about China’s assertive use of its power and the way in which China has essentially abused the window of COVID-19 to intensify its assertiveness,” Medcalf said. Morrison said that there is no more “benign security environment” for Australia.
The Labor opposition supports the strategy, welcoming a greater military focus. Sam Roggeveen of the Lowy Institute in Sydney said the strategy greatly concerns him. “Anything we can throw at China they can throw at us, and then some,” he said.