Australia Accelerates Armament Acquisition Amid China Threat

By Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev
Daniel Khmelev is an Australian reporter based in Perth covering energy, tech, and politics. He holds bachelor's degrees in math, physics, and computer science. Contact him at daniel.khmelev@epochtimes.com.au.
December 26, 2021 Updated: December 27, 2021

Australia is rapidly accelerating the rate at which it can procure new defence equipment and technology amid a globally deteriorating strategic environment.

Defence Industry, Science and Technology Minister Melissa Price has spearheaded the changes, which will involve slashing swathes of red tape that previously extended project negotiations by several years.

“For a project that would have previously taken four years, or possibly even longer to get the point of a contract signature, these changes will reduce that period by up to 12 months,” Price said.

The improved delivery of capability for the Australian Defence Force (ADF) comes following a September 2020 review into the previous process, with the new measures promising to cut on both time and financial cost for projects evaluated above $20 million.

Epoch Times Photo
Minister for Defence Industry, Science and Technology Melissa Price during a keel-laying ceremony for the first Offshore Patrol Vessel ‘Pilbara’ on Sep. 11, 2020 in Perth, Australia. (Photo by Paul Kane/Getty Images)

One of Australia’s most recent and most significant contracts includes a $1 billion weapons deal with South Korean firm Hanwha, a move that will bolster Australia’s defensive might with 30 new self-propelled howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition supply vehicles.

“The implementation of the review’s recommendations will significantly improve the way defence does business,” Price said.

Price highlighted the importance of streamlining the acquisition of new weapons and equipment in light of tensions simmering on a global scale.

“Our strategic environment is deteriorating and creating new challenges for us to overcome, so we must have a more agile procurement system that delivers the capability for our ADF more quickly and treats industry as a fundamental partner in the delivery of this capability.”

“This change, and other initiatives, introduced following the review will help the industry be better prepared and ready to respond to the needs of defence and government,” she said.

The announcement comes as frictions steadily grow between the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and democracies worldwide.

Beijing had previously attempted to punish Australia by slapping trade sanctions on the nation’s coal, wine, barley, beef, lobster, timber, and cotton—a politically motivated decision triggered after Australia called for an independent inquiry into the origins of the CCP virus.

But Australia has continued to push back against the CCP’s coercion, with Defence Minister Peter Dutton earlier calling out the communist regime for touting shallow words of peace.

“By now, we are all familiar with the frequent claims of the Chinese government that it is committed to peace, cooperation, and development,” Dutton said. “And yet we bear witness to a significant disconnect between words and actions, between rhetoric and reality.”

Australia defence
Australia’s Minister for Defence Peter Dutton speaks during a ceremony to mark the official commencement of Exercise Talisman Sabre, RAAF Base Amberley, in Brisbane on July 14, 2021. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

Dutton has also remarked on aggressive events that had been unfolding worldwide.

“We’re facing challenges including rapid military modernization, tension over territorial claims, heightened economic coercion, undermining of international law, … enhanced disinformation, foreign interference, and cyber threats,” Dutton said.

In particular, Dutton pointed to Beijing violating international agreements after it constructed 20 man-made island outposts in the South China Sea, sent military jets in Taiwan’s air defence space, used militia-crewed fishing vessels in the waters of the Philippines, and escalated border tensions between both India and Japan.

He has also called out Beijing for its decision to deprive  Hong Kong of its democratic institutions, its cyber activities against foreign governments and commercial institutions, and for its anti-Australian propaganda revolving around Australian troops peacekeeping mission in Afghanistan.

However, the defence minister is also aware that Australia must avoid engaging in conflict with the CCP.

“Every major city in Australia, including Hobart, is within range of China’s missiles,” Dutton said. “Australia’s position is clear: conflict must be avoided.”

Daniel Khmelev is an Australian reporter based in Perth covering energy, tech, and politics. He holds bachelor's degrees in math, physics, and computer science. Contact him at daniel.khmelev@epochtimes.com.au.