Government wants harder hitting forces

A MULTI-purpose defence force, capable of sustaining combat operations in two separate locations, while protecting Australia’s approaches is the goal the Federal Government is aiming for with its White Paper.

Australia’s defence policy will still involve self-reliance within a series of alliances, particularly with the US.

The Government’s view on the Australian Defence Force’s role is now largely limited to the Asia-Pacific region.

It seems unlikely Australian forces will become involved in any conflicts beyond that theatre such as the Gulf War of 10 years ago or Vietnam.

The Government’s first strategic objective is to ensure the defence of Australia and its approaches and then to foster the security of the immediate neighbourhood.

According to the White Paper, the Government is committed to working with the Indonesian Government to establish, over time, a new defence relationship “that will serve our enduring shared strategic interests”.

Australia will also seek to build a defence relationship with East Timor. Partnerships with New Zealand and Papua New Guinea will remain.

However, WA Premier Richard Court believes the real defence issues in this State have been ignored.

He said the Federal Government had not acted on the concerns his Government had repeatedly expressed about coastal security and surveillance.

Mr Court wanted an increased defence presence in the Pilbara and Kimberley regions.

“These are issues of great importance to this State and we will continue to pressure the Commonwealth for increased defence activity and representation in WA, including having the bases of Curtin and Learmonth fully operational at all times,” he said.

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