Australia and China have had diplomatic relations for several decades and continue to engage in trade. However, recent events, particularly the submarine deal between the United States and the United Kingdom, have strained their relationship. Reports suggest that Australia is taking precautions and strengthening its military capabilities in case tensions escalate further.
To prepare for a potential conflict in the region, the Australian government has committed $3.8 billion AUD over the next four years to upgrade its military bases across the country. Lawmakers have redirected funds from other projects that they scrapped. On April 27, Defence Minister Richard Marles announced the plan, stating that $2 billion of the funds will be used to upgrade fuel storage, runways, accommodations, and security at Royal Australian Air Force (RAAF) bases in northern Queensland, Cocos Islands, and the Northern Territory.
The Albanese Labor Government will bolster investment in Australia’s northern bases, committing $3.8 billion over the next four years.— Richard Marles (@RichardMarlesMP) April 27, 2023
More info can be found here: https://t.co/HQtrjoWB71
In addition to the $2 billion allocated for upgrading the RAAF bases, the country plans to spend $1 billion of the funding on improving its “land and estate capabilities.” The Harold E Holt Naval Communications Station, HMAS Coonawarra, and HMAS Cairns will receive $600 million specifically for maritime investments, while $200 million will be used for other projects.
According to Marles, the upgrades are necessary to ensure the country’s preparedness to defend itself in the northern region and maritime areas, as well as to have a long-range strike capability. He further noted that the Air Force must be prepared to engage in surveillance, defend the airspace, and carry out strikes.
Although the press release did not explicitly mention China as a potential threat, some have speculated that the decision to invest in naval and air operations may be linked to China’s military expansion in the South China Sea and the Taiwan Strait. The Epoch Times reported that this expansion has led countries to prioritize investments in these areas over traditional land forces.
Assistant Defence Minister Matt Thistlethwaite also highlighted the economic benefits that these investments will bring to the northern region where they are taking place.