Coalition calls for Australia to build its own missiles
By James Robertson
Australia must develop its own long-range missiles to meet rising challenges to regional security, opposition defence spokesman Andrew Hastie has said, as tensions across the Taiwan Strait continue unfolding.
Mr Hastie said on Sunday that Australia had to develop greater deterrents to challenges, such as from a rising China with “expansionist ambitions”.
“We need missiles that can reach out and touch an adversary,” Mr Hastie said.
“We need to partner (with America) to develop our own sovereign missiles, sovereign missiles Australian-owned, Australian-delivered, if required.”
Tweet from @InsidersABC Chinese warships and planes crossed over the median line in the Taiwan Strait on Saturday after a visit by the Speaker of the US House of Representatives Nancy Pelosi.
“What we’ve seen over the last week, particularly with the missiles being fired in and around Taiwan, is that they’re using that strategic bulk to force a sphere of influence and we need to respond to that,” Mr Hastie said of China.
Small but savvy? Mr Hastie said that Singapore and Israel were good examples for Australia’s future strategy.
The two small nations have invested heavily in military technology to offset their geographic circumstances.
Marcus Hellyer, an expert in the economy of the defence force from ASPI, said a recently announced review would seek to reconfigure the defence budget for future growth in China’s relative position as the regional power.
“There’s, I think, broad consensus that we cannot rely on the US for everything all the time,” he said.
The review led by Stephen Smith and Sir Angus Houston could redirect tens of billions worth of programs from the defence budget in response to deeper questions about the defence of Australia.
Increasing Australia’s long-range missile strike capability is one response favoured by both sides of politics in response to a changing regional security dynamic.
“Instead of starting the defence of Australia from [a distance of] about 1000 kilometres, it’s about having the ability to threaten an adversary, or shape their thinking at ranges of 2000 to 3000 kilometres.”
The tripartite AUKUS security pact and the development of longer-range nuclear-powered submarines was a major recent policy shift driven by the goal of expanding the boundaries of Australia’s zone of national defence.
But the boats are not expected to hit the water until the 2040s, which will leave a gap in Australia’s defence technologies until they are operational.
Too much consensus Other tough choices are around the corner in the Defence Strategic Review, which Dr Hellyer said would seek to cut some line items to focus efforts on the greatest priorities.
“We need to actually have some quite different thinking being injected into this discussion,” Dr Hellyer said.
“I think we need to have less consensus there and say some of these, these white elephants actually should be up for reassessment and reconsideration.”
The government says the AUKUS submarine program will be quarantined and not subject to review.
Dr Hellyer nominated an $18 billion to $26 billion program for building 400 new bulky armoured transport vehicles as one that might be superseded.
The development of sovereign missile capability became defence policy after a recent review and the announcement by Peter Dutton as then defence minister of a $1 billion program to develop it.
Defence currently has Raytheon and Lockheed Martin working with the Australian Missile Corporation on a plan projected to, within 15 years, achieve “increasingly sovereign design, development, manufacture and support of selected weapons”.