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Australia Increases Defense Spending (May 15)

The Howard Government has delivered on its commitment to strengthen Australia's defences, fight the war against terrorism and protect our borders with an increased Defence Budget.

Defence will get an extra $711 million in the 2002-03 Budget, for new operations and other measures including those listed below. This includes $539m in White Paper funding agreed in the 2001-02 Budget.Defence will get $393 million in the 2002-03 Budget for operations in Afghanistan, border protection and other measures including those listed below.

The 2002-03 Budget maintains the Government's White Paper commitment of an average annual real growth of 3 per cent for the Defence Budget over the next 10 years.

White Paper funding of $1,039 million announced in the 2001-02 Budget for the coming year will be maintained with $150 million rephased from 2002-03 to 2003-04.

Overall, total funding for Defence will increase to $14.3 billion, excluding the capital use charge of $5.056 billion.

The cost of Defence's current operations is significant. They are being funded through the increased Budget allocations and significant internal offsets.

Defence Minister Robert Hill said today the Budget allocation would:

--Continue Australia's contribution to the international coalition against terrorism with an extra $194 million in 2002-03. This money is in addition to the $330 million provided in the 2001-02 Additional Estimates to support the Operation Slipper deployments of Special Forces soldiers to Afghanistan, a Royal Australian Navy Task Group to the Multinational Interception Force in the Persian Gulf and two Royal Australian Air Force 707 air-to-air refuellers to Manas in Kyrgyzstan.

--Allow the ADF to continue operations to deter unauthorised boat arrivals and strengthen Australia's borders with an extra $22.3 million in 2002-03. This is in addition to $18.7 million that was provided in the 2001-02 Additional Estimates for this initiative.

--Strengthen Australia's domestic security arrangements through an effective doubling of our defence tactical assault and incident response capabilities. An extra $219.4 million over four years has been provided to establish on the east coast a second Tactical Assault Group capable of countering maritime and land terrorist activities. An extra $121 million over four years will allow us to have a permanent Incident Response Regiment to respond to a potential chemical, biological or radiological attack.

--Continue to implement the White Paper recommendations that provide long-term direction and support to the ADF, with spending of about $350 million on new major capital equipment projects in 2002-03. This is in addition to the $3,239 million expected to be spent on ongoing capital projects in 2002-03.

--Improve day-to-day protection for Defence's personnel and assets. More than $41 million extra will be spent in 2002-03 on heightened security arrangements across all Defence establishments.

"Australia's defence is a major priority for the Howard Government," Senator Hill said. "The international security outlook has fundamentally changed since the September 11 attacks in the United States. We live in uncertain times that require us to plan for the worst so that we can be well prepared to protect our community. As a committed member of the international coalition against terrorism, we need to continue to ensure that Australia's defence force remains combat focussed, well equipped, mobile and operationally ready.

"The 2002-03 Budget recognises the Australian Defence Force as an integral part of the security not only of our nation, but also of the international community in which we live."


Budget 2002-03 : Defence Funding Increases To $14.3 Billion