Australia will spend about A$38 billion ($28 billion) out to 2040 to expand its active defence personnel by a third to keep the country safe “in an increasingly uncertain global environment”, Prime Minister Scott Morrison said on Thursday.
Australia has been boosting its defence spending over the past few years as China looks to step up its presence in the Indo-Pacific region. Last year, Australia entered into a deal to buy nuclear submarines from the United States and Britain.
“This is a significant investment in our future force,” Morrison said during a media briefing on Thursday. The planned expansion would see the number of defence personnel rise to 80,000, a level not seen since the Vietnam War.
Morrison, behind in opinion polls in an election year, has made national security a core issue and has attacked the opposition Labor party as being “soft” on China, viewed by two-thirds of Australians as more of a security threat than an economic partner.