Australia to increase defence spending

Canberra, Feb 24 (IANS) Australia will raise defence spending to two percent of its gross domestic product (GDP) over the next seven years in a formal announcement to be made by Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull later this week.

Talking to media persons on Wednesday, Turnbull said the investment, to be revealed as part of the long-anticipated Defence White Paper, would serve Australia for “decades” to come, Xinhua news agency reported.

“The paper sets out the plan for Australia’s defence, security and investment. It’s focused on securing our nation decades into the future,” Turnbull said.

“It is a thoroughly, carefully, fully costed document and in that sense it is very different to the last paper.”

In the paper, the government intends to lift defence spending to 2 percent of the nation’s GDP by 2023 – a plan initially laid out by former prime minister Tony Abbott.

According to experts, that would result in almost one trillion dollars ($710 billion) being put into defence over the next 10 years.

Turnbull said the cost of the Defence White Paper was justified as it would set a higher standard for Australia’s armed forces.

“It will set out how we will give our Defence forces the resources they need, the capabilities they need, to keep us safe and to ensure that we play our part in delivering and ensuring regional security,” Turnbull said.

The Defence White Paper was last updated by former Prime Minister Julia Gillard in 2013.

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