The 2016 Defence White Paper was released today by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull and Defence Minister Marise Payne at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra.
Flanked by the Secretary of the department, Mr Dennis Richardson, and the Defence chiefs, the Government announced an increase in Defence spending of an additional $29.9 billion over the next decade.
The Government will grow the Defence budget to two per cent of Australia’s Gross Domestic Product by 2020-21, increasing the Defence budget from $32.4 billion in 2016-17 to $58.7 billion in 2025-26, representing a significant investment in capability.
For Navy the most significant investments will include a continuous naval shipbuilding program commencing with nine future frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels, and the expansion of the submarine fleet to 12.
Minister Payne said the investment in the submarine capability was key.
"It's a very, very important capability," she said.
"I've had the opportunity to discuss at some length with the Chief of Navy, with senior officers from the Department...how important that is to us, the work that the very strong Collins-class submarines do now.
"We're in the middle of a competitive evaluation process; the final bids for that were received at the end of November last year and in due course, the Department will provide advice to Government on those bids and we'll make a decision then."
Other major announcements included enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities; advanced training, modern equipment, health care and logistics systems to support personnel; comprehensive upgrades to Defence infrastructure across Australia to support our larger future force, including key bases, training and testing ranges and fuel and explosive ordnance facilities; and modernised information management, operational communications, and command and control systems.
The announcement said that defence strategy and capability plans had been independently costed to ensure they are achievable and affordable and a fully costed, ten-year Integrated Investment Program will bring together all capability-related investment including new weapons, platforms, infrastructure and science and technology.
The White Paper aims to position Defence to respond to a broader range of security threats to Australians at home and abroad.
The 2016 Defence White Paper, Integrated Investment Program and Defence Industry Policy Statement are available at www.defence.gov.au/whitepaper.