The United States is to spend about $2 billion to support the nation’s security in the first half of the year, with Australia slated to receive about $1 billion, the government has announced.
The National Security Agency and the US Drug Enforcement Agency will receive about a third of the money, the Australian government said in a statement on Friday.
Key points:Australia’s foreign aid is to be the largest single component of Australia’s budget over the next four yearsIt comes as the country struggles with the death toll of the coronavirus pandemicThe Australian government is spending $1.6 billion to fund domestic defence, while the US will contribute about $600 millionThe announcement came just days after Prime Minister Tony Abbott said Australia was spending $2,500 per person to support its national defence.
“Australia has already spent more than $2 trillion over the past four years on defence,” Mr Abbott said.
“I think we can’t wait another four years.”
Mr Abbott told ABC radio the cost of defence was “absolutely enormous”.
“The challenge we have is that if you want to get people through the airwaves you need a good communications system,” he said.
He said Australia had to spend the money to ensure its defences were up to the challenge of the pandemic.
“So, we have to get our troops through the gates of the world’s most powerful nation,” he added.
“It’s a big task and it’s not easy.”
The government announced the increase in defence spending on Friday, as Australia faces the first of its five consecutive years of severe drought.
Drought has hit the nation hard in recent months and the Government announced $10 million was being provided to the state’s water-sharing agency, WaterSmart.
It comes on top of a $1 million package of funding announced in July.
The Government is also introducing a $600-a-person rebate for overseas students and a $2-a year tax credit for people who make less than $70,000.
The federal government also announced a new $3.2 billion scheme to help fund overseas education and research.
“This is the first quarter in which we have been able to announce this kind of a significant change to our defence spending,” Foreign Minister Julie Bishop said in Sydney on Friday morning.
“We have already spent an estimated $2 million on defence in this quarter alone.”
In the coming months, we are working with our international partners and we will continue to do that.
“The Government also announced $2bn for the Royal Australian and New Zealand Air Force, $400 million for the Reserve Forces, and $100 million for Australia’s navy.
Mr Abbott said the funding announced this week would provide Australia with an extra $3 billion to spend on defence, “but in a small way”.”
Australia is in the grip of the worst financial crisis in living memory,” he told reporters.”
The only way we are going to recover is to raise taxes and spend more.
“The Commonwealth has also announced funding for an increase in the retirement age to 67 for the first time since 2012, with the Government expecting a “very large number” of Australians to make that transition.
Mr Rudd also announced the Government would introduce a national carbon tax.”
Our climate policy is designed to provide certainty to the Australian economy, and we are now getting to that part of the agenda,” Mr Rudd said.
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