Tuesday, 11 May 2021
Questions without Notice
My question is to the Minister representing the Minister for Defence. My question is asked in the context of the call on Saturday by the editor-in-chief of the Chinese state controlled news outlet the Global Times for the Chinese military to develop plans for:
… long-range strikes on the military facilities and relevant key facilities on Australian soil …
Can the minister confirm that all of Australia's major cities are within the known range of China's growing DF-31, DF-31A and JL-2 ballistic missile forces? Is it not the case that northern Australia is now well within the missile strike range of Chinese long-range Xian H-6 cruise-missile-armed bombers? How significant does the government consider these new strategic circumstances to be?
I thank Senator Patrick for the question. Senator Patrick, I can provide you with the following information. The government, as you would be aware, has recognised Australia's more complex and dynamic strategic environment through the 2020 Defence Strategic Update. The proliferation of ballistic missiles and other long-range weapons is one element of this evolution, but it is not the only change to our nation's strategic circumstances. You would be aware that the reality is that Australia has lived under the possible threat of intercontinental ballistic nuclear missiles now for many, many decades. A key element of Australia's strategy to counter this threat is the alliance with the United States, which incorporates extended deterrence but also actually marks its 70th anniversary this year.
In terms of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, you may be aware it also notes that the nature of current and future threats requires Defence to develop a different set of capabilities for the future. Defence is preparing for these threats through adjustments to force structure that will ensure the Defence Force can shape Australia's strategic environment, deliver credible deterrence and respond to challenges against our interests. Defence is investing in more potent capabilities and will hold adversary forces and infrastructure at risk further from Australia, including autonomous systems, missile defence and advanced strike capabilities, including hypersonics.
Can the minister representing advise what capabilities the Australian Defence Force has in its current inventory that, in the event of major hostilities in the western Pacific region, protect Australian cities from missile strikes from China? Does Australia currently possess any antiballistic missile systems capable of intercepting long-range ballistic missiles such as the DF-31, the DF-31A or the JL-2?
Again, Senator Patrick, I can provide you with the following information. The Australian government is investing more than $270 billion to upgrade the capabilities of the Australian Defence Force. We are also engaging our allies and partners to ensure the peaceful development of our region. We are working in forums including the Missile Technology Control Regime and other measures to prevent the proliferation of ballistic missile technologies, but it is the case that advanced intercontinental ballistic missiles are very difficult to defend against.
Can the minister representing advise what the government's plans are, if any, for the acquisition of antiballistic missile capabilities capable of defending Australia's major cities from long-range missile attack? When will any such capability be operational?
Senator Patrick, I can advise the 2020 Force Structure Plan outlines government's plans for investment in integrated air and missile defence systems. Funding is planned mid decade, seeking capability by the end of the decade.