AUKUS Is Now the Future, Says Australian Prime Minister

AUKUS is now the core of Australia’s national security strategy, says Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.

“AUKUS is about much more than nuclear submarines or even technological inter-operability,” Albanese told the National Press Club on Wednesday. “AUKUS is about the future.

“It further formalises the common values and the shared interest that our three nations have in preserving peace and upholding the rules and institutions that secure our region and our world,” he said.

In reference to the upcoming March announcement on how Australia will acquire nuclear-powered submarines under AUKUS, the prime minister called the move the “single biggest leap in our defence capability in our history.”

He said it offered Australia a whole-of-nation opportunity for jobs, industries, and expertise in science, technology, and cyber.

“We recognise that pursuing and defending our sovereign interests and contributing to regional stability requires us to build our sovereign defence capability, including advanced manufacturing,” he said. “As [Defence Minister] Richard Marles has said, national security demands a whole-of-nation effort.”

Sen. James Paterson, the shadow minister for cyber and countering foreign interference, welcomed the prime minister’s speech while calling it a “signature achievement” of the Coalition while it was in office.

“I hope they can build upon it, accelerate it and deliver it even faster because the strategic environment that we’re operating in is continuing to deteriorate incredibly fast,” he told Sky News.

“The best thing that we can do to prevent conflict … is to be a credible, strong power in support of and in close consultation with our allies.”

AUKUS Crucial For Countering Beijing in the Indo-Pacific

The comments from Albanese come after the former Commander of the U.S. Pacific Command Adm. Harry B. Harris Jr. spoke to the U.S. Armed Services congressional committee on the importance of AUKUS.

“AUKUS is supremely important,” Harris said. “We’re going to need to put our shoulder to the task for Australia, which has a tremendous military.

“For them to have a long reach of a nuclear submarine force would be dramatic. It would help us dramatically. It would change the balance of power in the Indian Ocean.”

Epoch Times Photo
A China Coast Guard ship (L) chasing a Vietnam Coast Guard vessel near the site of a Chinese drilling oil rig being installed at the disputed water in the South China Sea off Vietnam’s central coast May 14, 2014. (HOANG DINH NAM/AFP via Getty Images)

Meanwhile, deterrence policy expert Melanie W. Sisson, a fellow at the Strobe Talbott Center for Security, Strategy, and Technology, told Congress she believed that alliances and regional diplomatic engagements like AUKUS were key to countering the Chinese Communist Party.

She said it was a demonstration to the Chinese regime of the commitment of regional neighbours towards “certain standards and expectations of behaviour” by governments.

Defence Budget to Get Boost

The prime minister also said Australians can expect the defence budget once the 2022 Defence Force Review is released.

The review was undertaken by former defence chief Sir Angus Houston and former defence minister Stephen Smith. The six-month report was received last week and called for an increase in defence spending.

Albanese pledged to make sure the Australian Defence Forces would have the resources to defend the country.

“With the right investments in our capability and sovereignty, our defence force can be made ready for future challenges,” he said.

The Labor government has continued ongoing work by the previous government by moving to better equip the ADF with Defence Minister Richard Marles announcing a purchase of new guided weapons systems for the navy and army.

“In the current strategic environment, it’s important the Australian Defence Force is equipped with high-end, targeted military capabilities,” Marles said.

Epoch Times Photo
United States Marine Corps M142 High Mobility Artillery Rocket Systems during the firepower demonstration, at the Shoalwater Bay Training Area in Queensland, during Exercise Talisman Sabre 2021, January 2023. (Corporal Madhur Chitnis, Australian Defence Forces).

The Naval Strike Missile (NSM) systems will be employed on the Hobart Class destroyers and Anzac Class frigates, while the High Mobility Artillery Rocket System (HIMARS) will enable the army to acquire land-based, long-range surface-to-surface launchers, missiles, and training rockets. The systems are scheduled to be put in rotation in 2024, and 2026-7 respectively.

Minister for Defence Pat Conroy said that the acquisition was part of the government’s plan to prep the ADF for the 21st century.

“The level of technology involved in these acquisitions takes our forces to the cutting edge of modern military hardware,” he said.

“The Naval Strike Missile is a major step up in capability for our Navy’s warships, while HIMARS launchers have been successfully deployed by the Ukrainian military over recent months and are a substantial new capability for the Army.”

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