Sunday, 04 Dec 2022

Anthony Albanese seeks ways to boost Australias defence capability as G20 ends

Anthony Albanese seeks ways to boost Australias defence capability as G20 ends


Anthony Albanese seeks ways to boost Australias defence capability as G20 ends

Anthony Albanese has confirmed he canvassed interim solutions to boost Australia's defence capability with Joe Biden, Rishi Sunak and Emmanuel Macron in a flurry of private meetings on the sidelines of the G20 and East Asia summits.

After meeting the French president in Bali on Wednesday, Australia's prime minister flagged he was actively pursuing closer defence and security cooperation with Macron, given France is a significant Pacific and Indian ocean power.

Albanese declined to go into the specifics of equipment being discussed, but confirmed he has invited Macron to visit Australia to deepen linkages on defence, and also to coordinate action to deal with the climate crisis.

The government has engaged the former chief of the Australian defence force Sir Angus Houston and former Labor defence minister Stephen Smith to work on a defence strategic review that will spell out the capability needed by Australia to respond to security threats in the Indo-Pacific as China pursues its military buildup and becomes more active in the region.

As well as that review, Vice Admiral Jonathan Mead is the head of a taskforce that is working with counterparts in the US and the UK to advise the government on how to deliver the Aukus project.

A key part of that work will be determining how long before Australia's new fleet of nuclear submarines can be operational - and whether there is a "capability gap" that needs to be filled in the meantime. It has been widely assumed that the first submarines may not be operational until the late 2030s.

Albanese told reporters in Bali on Wednesday night the strategic review was considering not only where Australia placed its defence assets but also "what those appropriate assets are".

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