The Australian Government has announced that as part of the 2009-10 budget announced on 12 May, $30bn will be committed to improving and expanding the armed forces.

This large-scale investment in defence is, according to the new 2009 defence white paper, designed to strengthen the foundations of Australia’s defence force, meet the challenges of an uncertain future and address current capability and management challenges in need of reform.

The Australian Minister for Defence Joel Fitzgibbon said the new government headed by Prime Minister Kevin Rudd will fix decades of military neglect and underinvestment inherited from the previous government.

“Through this new budget we are making proper provision for the entire through-life costs associated with building the projected force of the future, which includes fixing some projects that were approved by the previous government but not properly budgeted for,” said Fitzgibbon.

“The capabilities outlined in the white paper will, over the next 20 years, create one of the most capable defence forces in our region, with the world’s best people, equipment and support systems.”

The government will invest about A$6bn to fix critical capability gaps.

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These include more than 50 initiatives, including upgrading inadequate electronic warfare and counter improvised explosive device technology as well as equipping all the ANZAC-class ships with Mini Typhoon self-defence systems.

The government will also invest about A$18bn to maintain its current force.

This includes 20 new initiatives, such as approved and planned capability projects, submarine sustainment and funding for the Australian Federal Police at Headquarters Joint Operations Command.

A final A$6bn will be used to revitalise support areas and modernise defence systems such as Australia’s aging information and communication technology infrastructure to bring them up to contemporary commercial standards.

Fitzgibbons said the budget helps address decades of neglect and underinvestment in critical support areas.

“The remediation will address deficiencies in critical areas such as storage and loading facilities at ports, technology upgrades for key defence research facilities, vehicle maintenance facilities, airfields and training ranges, and fuel and weapons storage,” Fitzgibbon said.

By Daniel Garrun.