Marles outlines defence investment with big jump in spending


Defence Minister Richard Marles has outlined an ambitious Integrated Investment Program which incudes a jump in defence spending to the equivalent of 2.4 percent of GDP by 2033-34, a rise of a massive 0.3 percent on earlier projections.

The programme, a response to the 2024 National Defence Strategy, involves a complete rebuild of Defence’s capability procurement plan to meet Australia’s strategic circumstances and accelerate the creation of critical capabilities.

Marles said: “To deliver impactful projection, we are making an historic investment in Defence funding – including $330 billion for the Integrated Investment Program over the decade, a significant lift from previous planning.

“At a time of complex challenges and increasing uncertainty, a stronger, integrated, focused and capable Defence Force is of the upmost importance.”

The government has allocated $330 billion for the Integrated Investment Program over the decade to 2033-34.

“This is a significant lift compared to the $270 billion allocated for the 10-year period to 2029-30 as part of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and 2020 Force Structure Plan.”

The commitment includes an additional $5.7 billion over the next four years and $50.3 billion over the next decade above the previous trajectory over that period, according to Marles to deliver:

  • A Navy with an enhanced lethality surface fleet and conventionally-armed, nuclear‑powered submarines
  • An Army optimised for littoral manoeuvre with a long-range land and maritime strike capability
  • An Air Force that can deliver long-range intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance and an enhanced maritime, land and air strike capability
  • And a strengthened and integrated space and cyber capability, including enhanced cyber and electronic warfare and new space-based situational awareness.

These investments include an additional $11.1 billion over the next decade to deliver the Government’s response to the independent analysis of Navy’s surface combatant fleet, and an additional $1 billion over the next four years to support targeting, long-range fires, theatre logistics, fuel resilience and robotic and autonomous systems.

However there will also be losers – the government is ‘also making the necessary decisions to divest, delay or re-scope projects that do not meet our strategic circumstances’.

Industry should also be pleased as the government’s announcement comes with an explicit promise to local companies.

The Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy said: “This is a record investment in defence capability and an investment in a future made in Australia, which will not only make the country safer, but also deliver dividends for industry and jobs for hard-working Australians.

“This fully funded plan ensures a continuous pipeline of investment that underscores the Albanese Government’s unwavering commitment to developing Australia’s sovereign defence industry.”

Picture: Defence/Richard Marles

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