Report calls for a strengthening of defence bases in Australia’s north

The Australian  January 30,  by: Mark Dodd

 THE Australian Defence Force needs to increase its presence and visibility across Australia’s north to meet rapidly changing strategic developments in the Asia-Pacific and Indian Ocean, a key report has warned. A progress report on the government’s Force Posture Review, ordered last year by Defence Minister Stephen Smith, also calls for a second naval fleet base to be built on the east coast. Brisbane has been named as a possible site to supplement the current fleet base in Sydney.

Prepared by former defence department secretaries Dr Allan Hawke and Ric Smith, the review aims to better position the defence force to meet future strategic challenges in the region. The report calls for the strengthening of military bases close to Western Australia’s North West Shelf  petroleum and mineral resource zone. It says basing more defence assets in Australia’s far north would also enable better preparedness in responding to humanitarian disasters. The full digital experience “The progress report offers a range of thoughts and options on how the ADF could be better geographically positioned to respond in a timely way to Australia’s strategic and security demands,” said Mr Smith.

“The progress report points to the Asia-Pacific Century as reinforcing the need for a force posture that can support operations in Australia’s northern and western approaches, as well as operations with our partners in the wider Asia-Pacific region and the Indian Ocean rim,” he added. On the northwest coast, Exmouth, Dampier, Port Hedland and Broome were cited for improvements to port infrastructure to allow easier wharf access by navy warships. The report foreshadows the sale of additional defence properties and real estate considered no longer vital to ADF capability.

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