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Defense Budget to Rise by $50 Billion in Response to Growing Threats in Indo-Pacific Region

Defence Minister Richard Marles has suggested that recruiting New Zealand migrants could be a viable option to address the declining personnel numbers.

An “unprecedented conventional and non-conventional military buildup” in the Indo-Pacific has heightened the risk of a miscalculation, according to Australia’s Defence Minister Richard Marles.

In response to this, the Labor government has committed to increasing defence spending by an additional $50 billion (US$32 billion) over the next ten years.

Additionally, there will be an immediate expenditure of over $1 billion to fast-track the procurement of long-range missiles, targeting systems, and lethal autonomous systems.

This surge in defence spending aims to raise it to $100 billion annually by 2034, pushing the defence budget to 2.4 percent of GDP by 2033/34.

During the unveiling of the government’s National Defence Strategy at the National Press Club on April 17, Mr. Marles emphasized the need to transition from a balanced force to a focused force, aligning with similar assessments made in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update.

Mr. Marles stressed the importance of Australia prioritizing its regional interests over global responsibilities, as outlined in the defense strategic assessment.

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Australia’s security and prosperity rely on a stable, peaceful region where the global rules-based order is respected, according to Mr. Marles.

10-Year Window to Build Up Defence Force

He emphasized the need to develop a strong Australian Defence Force that can resist coercion and safeguard Australia’s interests in an increasingly insecure global landscape.

Bonuses, New Zealanders to Plug Defence Force Gap

Addressing the need for additional personnel in the ADF, Mr. Marles announced plans to offer $50,000 “continuation bonuses” to encourage individuals to extend their service commitments beyond the minimum requirements.

He also suggested considering recruiting from AUKUS or Five Eyes partners, with New Zealand migrants in Australia being a potential source of new personnel.

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