Prime Minister Scott Morrison has announced a $747-million upgrade to four key training areas and ranges in the Northern Territory as tensions continue to rise in the Indo-Pacific region.
Speaking in Darwin yesterday (Wednesday), he said the essential improvements would enable the Australian Defence Force to conduct simulated training exercises and remain battle ready.
The military training areas and weapon ranges scheduled for upgrading include Robertson Barracks, Kangaroo Flats, Mount Bundey and Bradshaw.
“These Defence training areas and facilities will support greater engagement with our Indo-Pacific neighbours and our allies, and [enable us] to conduct small- and large-scale military exercises across a number of different scenarios,” the Prime Minister said.
Regional tensions have risen notably
Political tensions in the region have risen notably of late – including between Australia and China, China and Taiwan, and China and the Philippines.
This week the Department of Home Affairs Secretary, Mike Pezzullo, told staff in an Anzac Day message that free nations were again hearing “the drums of war” beat.
“In a world of perpetual tension and dread, the drums of war beat – sometimes faintly and distantly, and at other times more loudly and ever closer,” he said.
“Today, as free nations again hear the beating drums and watch worryingly the militarisation of issues that we had, until recent years, thought unlikely to be catalysts for war, let us continue to search unceasingly for the chance for peace while bracing again, yet again, for the curse of war.”
In his Darwin address, the Prime Minister said the latest investment was part of almost $8-billion in defence capital infrastructure works over the next decade in the Northern Territory.
Latest technology and training for ADF
“This investment will deliver a jobs boom for the Northern Territory,” he said.
“We continue to invest more than $270-billion in defence capability across Australia over the next decade, ensuring we have a capable defence force to meet a changing global environment, while backing thousands of ADF men and women with the newest technology and training.”
Minister for Defence, Peter Dutton, added that the upgrades would enable the ADF to continue “world class training” in conjunction with allied forces, including with the US Marine Rotational Force based in Darwin.
The project would also bring strong economic benefit to the region, with significant opportunities for the local construction industry and local tradies over a five-year delivery-phase program.