SYDNEY, April 28 (Reuters) – Australia will unveil a A$747 million ($580 million) defence package on Wednesday to upgrade four military bases in its north and expand war games with the United States, The Australian newspaper reported.
An airstrip in the Northern Territory will be lengthened to support larger aircraft, firing ranges overhauled and new training facilities set up for defence personnel and U.S. marines, The Australian newspaper reported.
“Working with the United States, our allies and Indo-Pacific neighbours, we will continue to advance Australia’s interests by investing in the Australian Defence Force,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison was quoted as saying in the report.
The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
One of Australia’s most senior security officials earlier this week said that liberal democracies must brace for war.
Home Affairs Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo did not specify the catalyst for his warning but it follows a sharp deterioration in Australia’s relationship with China and a rise in regional tensions over Taiwan.
Diplomatic relations between Australia and China have worsened since Canberra called for an international inquiry into the origins of the coronavirus, prompting trade reprisals from Beijing.
Australian Defence Minister Peter Dutton on Sunday said a conflict involving China over Taiwan “should not be discounted”.
$1 = 1.2870 Australian dollars Reporting by Renju Jose; Editing by Stephen Coates