Australia boosts defense spending amid China tensions, Ukraine war

Sydney, Australia, Mar 29 (EFE).- Australia will allocate more than two percent of its gross domestic product towards defense amid growing tensions with China in the Indo-Pacific region, and the crisis over Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, according to the budget for the fiscal year 2022-2023 announced Tuesday.

“The world is less stable, we must invest more in the defense of our nation,” Treasurer Josh Frydenberg said while presenting his fourth budget before the Australian parliament.

Australia is expected to spend some AU$575 billion ($431 billion) on its defense sector of the next decade, while the government looks to increase its troops by additional 18,500 soldiers to 80,000 by 2040.

In this sector, a major expense will be the investment over the next decade of AU$9.9 billion on bolstering national cybersecurity and intelligence capabilities.

This investment will include the so-called REDSPICE project to detect and respond to cyber attacks and improve intelligence.

It comes in response to the “deteriorating strategic circumstances in our region, characterized by rapid military expansion, growing coercive behavior and increased cyber-attacks,” Defense Minister Peter Dutton said in a statement.

“It acknowledges the nature of conflict has changed, with cyber-attacks now commonly preceding other forms of military intervention – most recently demonstrated by offensive cyber activity against Ukraine,” Dutton added without directly mentioning Russia or China.

Regarding the war in Ukraine, the budget for the next fiscal year, between Jul.1, 2022 and Jun.30, 2023, allocates some AU$156.5 million in assistance to the war-torn country.

The budget for defense also allocates more than AU$560 million for the fight against terrorism and violent extremism, border protection and against organized and transnational crime.

The Australian budget, which addresses the high cost of living, forecasts a deficit of AU$78 billion for the fiscal year 2022-2023, equivalent to 3.4 percent of the GDP. EFE


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