Australia to strengthen long-range capabilities, northern bases

Review marks biggest overhaul of Australian defence policy since World War II.

Australia has said the acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines, long-range strike capabilities and its northern bases will be among the country’s six priority areas following a major review of defence strategy initiated by Prime Minister Anthony Albanese shortly after he was elected.

With the public release of the classified Defence Strategic Review, Albanese noted three other priorities for immediate action: Initiatives to improve the growth and retention of a highly skilled defence workforce, improving Australia’s capacity to rapidly translate new technologies into defence, and a deepening of defence and diplomatic partnerships with “key partners” in the Indo-Pacific.

“The Defence Strategic Review, and the Government’s response, is about maintaining peace, security and prosperity in our region,” Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles said in a statement on Monday, stressing that work on the initiatives would begin straightaway.

“There are a lot of tough decisions which need to be made, but in doing so, we are making them in the best interest of our Defence Force and our nation.”

The defence overhaul comes amid rising tension in East Asia — particularly over the self-ruled island of Taiwan — and as China forges ahead with the modernisation of its military.

“A large scale conventional and non-conventional military build-up without the strategic reassurance is contributing to the most challenging circumstances in our region in decades,” the government said.

Australia has previously expressed concern about the lack of transparency surrounding China’s military build-up.

Albanese said the review’s recommendations would strengthen Australia’s “national security and ensure our readiness for future challenges” and “help build a more secure Australia and a more stable and prosperous region”.

The review, which recommended Australia increase defence spending from its current level of about 2 percent, was led by former Australian Defence Forces chief Angus Houston and former Defence Minister Stephen Smith.

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