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Australia to Increase Defense Spending by 3% A Year Until 2018

The Rudd Labor Government will invest a record amount over the next ten years in the Australian Defence Force to ensure it is ready to meet the challenges of an uncertain world, Minister for Defence Joel Fitzgibbon announced today.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the Government’s commitment in this year’s Budget to increase underlying Defence funding by an average of three per cent in real terms every year to 2017-18, two years more than previously announced, was a major boost for Defence.

“The increase will provide an additional $2.8 billion to Defence over two years in 2016-17 and 2017-18 and will ensure that our soldiers have the necessary equipment, training and the support they require to undertake their difficult work”, Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Mr Fitzgibbon said the Rudd Government has no higher priority than the defence and security of the nation, its people and their interests.

“The valued role that Defence plays in supporting domestic, regional and international security has been highlighted again in the 2008 09 Budget,” he said.

In 2008-09, total funding of $1.036 billion will be made available for Australian Defence Force operations, consisting of:

--$618.9 million for Operation Slipper, Australia's contribution to the International Security Assistance Force in Afghanistan. This demonstrates Australia’s commitment to working with the international community to help combat terrorism;
--$174.3 million for Operation Astute, Australia’s assistance to Timor-Leste to restore peace and stability;
--$215.7 million for the continuation of Operation Catalyst, Australia’s contribution to the rehabilitation and reconstruction of Iraq; and
--$27.1 million for Operation Anode, Australia’s contribution to the Australian-led Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands.

The 2008 09 Budget reflects the importance that the Rudd Labor Government places on Defence Force members and their families.

Mr Fitzgibbon said support for Defence families will be improved and encouragement of the vital role of Reservists will continue.

Recruitment and retention remains one of Defence’s key priorities.

“Defence will introduce new recruitment strategies, including work experience programs and initiatives that encourage women and other under-represented groups into the Australian Defence Force,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

In 2008-09, the Rudd Labor Government will deliver on its election commitments, including:

--trialling free basic GP services, as well as dental services of up to $300 a year, for the families of full time Australian Defence Force members in five areas;
--implementing the first stage of the comprehensive Defence mental health ‘lifecycle’ package, which supports the mental health of Defence Force members throughout their careers;
--continuing preliminary work on Australia’s new submarine capability; and
--developing a new Defence White Paper, which will clearly set the Government’s plans for the size, capacity and shape of the Defence Force for the next 20 years and beyond.

“The Rudd Labor Government’s commitment to supporting Defence operations remains resolute. Defence must, at all times, be ready and able to secure our borders, respond to domestic and regional emergencies and contribute to operations in support of Australia’s interests,” Mr Fitzgibbon said. (ends)
Budget 2008-09: Defence 2008-09 Budget