Our Plan

Issue 08

A Stronger Defence Force

Australia faces an uncertain future in an uncertain world. To protect our future security and interests, we are building a stronger Defence Force, by restoring Defence funding to 2% of GDP by 2020-21.

This reverses the decline under Labor, where Defence was a casualty of Labor’s inability to manage money. Under Labor, Defence funding was gutted by $18 billion and investment fell to just 1.56% of GDP – the lowest level since 1938.

In their last three years in Government, from 2010-2013, the Labor Party cut Defence spending by 17.9% in real terms.

Labor also failed to place a single order at an Australian naval shipyard in six years, while Australia’s defence industry shed more than 10% of its workforce.

Under Labor, 119 Defence projects were delayed, 43 were reduced and eight projects were cancelled – risking critical capability gaps.

The Liberal and Nationals Government’s 2016 Defence White Paper sets out a comprehensive strategy to deal with security challenges over the next 20 years.

It is the first White Paper to be fully costed, outlining how we plan to invest $200 billion in Australia’s Defence capability over the next 10 years.

Last financial year, the Liberal and Nationals Government signed off on a record number of Defence capability approvals.


While the previous Labor Government failed to construct a single new ship for our Navy in Australia, we have committed to building 54 new ships.

We are undertaking the largest regeneration of the Navy since World War Two.

This includes the doubling of our submarine fleet to 12, nine Hunter class frigates, and 12 Offshore Patrol Vessels to ensure our borders remain secure.

All 54 vessels will be built in Australia, using Australian workers and Australian steel.

This massive build up will create thousands of Australian jobs for decades to come.


The Australian Army is acquiring new weapons, including new rifles, pistols, grenade launchers and mortars as well as new body armour and night-fighting equipment.

New combat reconnaissance, infantry fighting and light protected vehicles will be introduced into service and upgrades to the M1 Abrams Main Battle Tank will ensure our forces have the protection, mobility and firepower they need to defeat adversaries on future battlefields.

This will be coupled with a new protected truck fleet, with Australian trailers and modules, cranes, excavators, front end loaders, forklifts and tractors as well as aviation refuelling and fire trucks.

In 2017, the Australian Defence Force selected Raytheon Australia to develop a Short Range Ground-Based Air Defence system, to improve protection for deployed forces from increasingly sophisticated air threats.


The F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program will give the Royal Australian Air Force unprecedented air combat capability to combat future threats to Australia. The first two aircraft to be permanently based in Australia will arrive by the end of 2018.

More than 50 Australian companies have directly shared in more than $1 billion in production contracts in the global Joint Strike Fighter program.

The Maritime Patrol Aircraft Replacement project will provide a mixed fleet of manned and remotely piloted aircraft to replace Australia’s AP‑3C Orion maritime surveillance and response fleet.

Together, the P-8A Poseidon (some of which have already been delivered) and the MQ-4C Triton aircraft will provide Australia with one of the most advanced maritime patrol and surveillance capabilities in the world.

The full fleet of EA-18G Growler Electronic Attack Aircraft have arrived in Australia. This is an airborne electronic attack aircraft capable of denying, degrading, deceiving and destroying a broad range of military electronic systems, including radars and communications.


We are maximising the involvement of Australia’s defence industry in projects, in order to help Australia build our Defence sovereign capability and maintain a technological and warfighting advantage in a rapidly changing environment.

There are over 25,000 people employed in Australia’s defence industry and over 3,000 small to medium enterprises providing essential capability, services and support to the ADF.

Under our leadership, the ADF is implementing Local Industry Capability Plans to ensure local businesses have more opportunities to benefit from our $200 billion investment over 10 years.

Our future submarine program, future frigate program, offshore patrol vessels and Pacific patrol boats will be built locally using Australian industry capability, Australian steel and Australian workers.

This $90 billion shipbuilding program will secure the future of our Defence Industry for decades to come.


We have given our ADF the power to target terrorists with lethal force (in accordance with international law). This includes support networks and improvised weapons manufacturers as well as front line combatants.

As part of Operation Okra, around 680 ADF personnel have been involved in the fight against Islamic State. Islamic State has now lost more than 90% of the territory it once held in Iraq.

We’ve increased our commitment to the NATO-led Resolute Support in Afghanistan (to around 300 personnel) so Afghanistan does not again become a safe haven for terrorists.

To combat terrorism in our region, ADF training teams are building the capacity of the Armed Forces of the Philippines to combat Islamic State-aligned terrorists.

We are also expanding the ADF’s role in training select state and territory police units to respond to domestic terrorist incidents.


We’ve increased the ADF's engagement in the South Pacific and South East Asia to help build its capacity and capability to respond to common threats and security challenges.


We are supporting our former, current and future Defence personnel, through:

  • A program of free and immediate treatment for all mental health conditions for current and former ADF members.
  • A new ADF Super Scheme that will financially benefit the 80% of ADF members who serve less than 15 years.
  • A policy of ‘No Discharge Without Documentation’ to ensure ADF members are prepared for civilian life.
  • Establishing individual professional career coaching for ADF members prior to – and up to 12 months following – separation from the ADF.
  • An Early Engagement Model that makes it easier for ADF members to make claims from the Department of Veterans’ Affairs.
  • Stronger protections for Reservists when they go on deployment.
  • Restarting the ADF Gap Year program for Australian school-leavers.

Information current as at November 2018