The Australian Government‘s defence budget is not large enough to sustain the country’s current commitments in the Asia-Pacific, a former senior advisor says.

Professor Hugh White, who advised the government in the 1980s and is now at thinktank the Lowy Institute, told Radio Australia the government needs to spend more wisely on air and sea weaponry so it can keep launching independent operations in the Asia-Pacific.

“Air and maritime capabilities will be the heart of Australia’s strategic weight in Asia,” he says.

“To my mind, in particular, that will require large-scale investments in combat aircraft and the systems that support them and in submarines.”

The Australian Government is writing the first defence whitepaper in eight years on what military operations the armed forces will undertake in the future.

By Elizabeth Clifford-Marsh