Over the next decade, Australia is preparing to invest almost A$200 billion in defence capability. This includes plans for new warships, submarines and fighter jets, as well as long-range rockets, drones and various armoured vehicles for the army. The outlay is substantial, and will add to the country’s military edge and see it among the world’s top fifteen defence spenders. But there is one thing this outlay will not achieve: a self-reliant military.
Despite an increasingly uncertain strategic environment, with challenges ranging from the North Korean missile crisis to tensions over Taiwan and the South China Sea, Australia’s growing military spending won’t give us an ability to defend ourselves independently. We will continue to rely on larger and more powerful friends to supply us with military technology and help out with logistics, and, in the case of a conflict with a major power, to come to our direct assistance. In addition, though it’s not often explicitly discussed, we will continue to shelter under the US nuclear umbrella.