SYDNEY (Reuters) -Australia will spend A $ 747 million ($ 580 million) to upgrade four military bases in the north and expand the war game with the United States, Prime Minister Scott Morrison will say on Wednesday.
The airstrip in the Northern Territory will be extended to support larger aircraft, firing ranges overhauled and new training facilities set up for US defense and marine personnel, according to excerpts from the announcement seen by Reuters.
“Working with the United States, our allies and Indo-Pacific neighbors, we will continue to advance Australia’s interests by investing in the Australian Defense Force,” Prime Minister Scott Morrison will say.
“Our focus is on pursuing peace, stability, and a free and open Indo-Pacific, with a world order that favors freedom.”
The military upgrade will begin this year and finish in 2026.
The prime minister’s office did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
The US Embassy in Canberra did not immediately respond to a request for comment.
Australia and the United States hold biannual war games, which are further scheduled to start in August.
Typically, more than 30,000 troops participate in drills off Australia’s east coast.
One of Australia’s most senior security officials earlier this week said liberal democracies must prepare for war.
Home Department Secretary Mike Pezzullo did not specify a catalyst for his warning but it followed a sharp deterioration in Australia’s relations with China and rising regional tensions over Taiwan.
Relations between Australia and China have deteriorated since Canberra called for an international investigation into the origins of the coronavirus, prompting retaliatory trade from Beijing.
Australian Defense Minister Peter Dutton on Sunday said the conflict between China and Taiwan “must not be ignored”.
($ 1 = 1.2870 Australian dollars)
Reporting by Renju Jose in Sydney and Colin Packham in Canberra; Edited by Stephen Coates