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Albanese touts defence spending increase

Albanese touts defence spending increase

The federal Opposition Leader has backed increased investment in defence capability, contingent on capability enhancements and improvements to delivery timelines.

The federal Opposition Leader has backed increased investment in defence capability, contingent on capability enhancements and improvements to delivery timelines.

Labor Opposition Leader Anthony Albanese has delivered his 2022-23 budget reply speech, outlining his policy agenda ahead of the upcoming federal election.

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This included acknowledging the need for an increase to defence spending amid growing uncertainty and instability in the geostrategic environment.   

However, the Opposition Leader stressed that a ramp up in investment would need to “actually improve” Australia’s defence posture, and deliver new capability “when they are needed”. Albanese criticised the government’s management of defence procurement, pointing to its decision to axe Naval Group’s $90 billion Attack Class contract.

“Spending billions to rip up contracts and blindside our allies is no way to enhance our security,” he said.

Despite this criticism, Albanese has expressed support for its subsequent plan to procure nuclear-powered submarines under the AUKUS agreement.  

However, in his recent address to the Lowy Institute, he noted concern over delivery timelines and program delays associated with a range of major Defence projects, including the Hunter Class frigate program.

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He conceded that while he cannot make commitments in the absence of expert advice, a potential Albanese government would review Defence’s procurement portfolio.

Albanese’s budget reply speech followed Treasurer Josh Frydenberg’s formal budget address on Tuesday (29 March).

The government announced Project REDSPICE (Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber, and Enablers) — a $9.9 billion investment over the next decade in the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).

The project aims to bolster the ASD’s offensive cyber capabilities and strengthen its detection and response network.

This is tipped to almost double the size of the agency, generating over 1,900 jobs.

Further, over 2022-23, an additional $74.7 million has been invested in Operation RESOLUTE, which aims to protect Australia’s maritime interests in the region, while $104.2 million has been invested for Operation ACCORDION, supporting operations in the Middle East. 

The budget also outlines a raft of recently announced investments in defence capability, including:

The budget also includes funding for the provision of veterans services, with an initial $22.8 million to fund 90 extra Department of Veterans’ Affairs staff managing unprocessed enquiries.

[Related: Opposition pledges review of major Defence projects]

Charbel Kadib

Charbel Kadib

News Editor – Defence and Security, Momentum Media

Prior to joining the defence and aerospace team in 2020, Charbel was news editor of The Adviser and Mortgage Business, where he covered developments in the banking and financial services sector for three years. Charbel has a keen interest in geopolitics and international relations, graduating from the University of Notre Dame with a double major in politics and journalism. Charbel has also completed internships with The Australian Department of Communications and the Arts and public relations agency Fifty Acres.

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