A multi-billion-dollar investment in new national cyber and intelligence capabilities are among a range of measures outlined in the Commonwealth government’s pre-election Budget.
Treasurer Josh Frydenberg has handed down the 2022-23 Budget, announcing Project REDSPICE (Resilience, Effects, Defence, Space, Intelligence, Cyber, and Enablers) — a $9.9 billion investment over the next decade in the Australian Signals Directorate (ASD).
The project aims to bolster the ASD’s offensive cyber capabilities and strengthen its detection and response network.
This is tipped to almost double the size of the ASD, generating over 1,900 jobs.
“This investment in ASD recognises the deteriorating strategic circumstances in our region, characterised by rapid military expansion, growing coercive behaviour and increased cyber-attacks,” Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said.
“It acknowledges the nature of conflict has changed, with cyber-attacks now commonly preceding other forms of military intervention – most recently demonstrated by offensive cyber activity against Ukraine.
“REDSPICE ensures Australia keeps pace with the rapid growth of cyber capabilities of potential adversaries. It provides new intelligence capabilities, new cyber defences to protect our most critical systems, and is a real increase in the potency of ASD’s ability to strike back in cyberspace.
Further, an additional $74.7 million has been invested in Operation RESOLUTE, which aims to protect Australia’s maritime interests by supporting ongoing operations and activities in the Middle East with an additional investment of $104.2 million in 2022-23 for Operation ACCORDION.
The Budget also outlines a raft of recently announced investments in defence capability, including:
- investing $38 billion in the expansion of the permanent ADF and Defence civilian workforce, up 18,500 by 2039-40;
- a $10 billion investment in a new submarine base to be built on the east-coast;
- a $4.3 billion commitment to develop Western Australia’s first large-vessel dry berth precinct at Henderson Shipyard;
- a plan to more than triple the size of Osborne Shipyard for the future SSN program;
- investment in new uncrewed aerial surveillance systems, Ch-47F Chinook helicopters, Abrams tanks, and combat vehicles for the Australian Army;
- extending in-service support for the Hawk 127 Lead-In Fighter Training System;
The Budget also includes funding for the provision of veterans services, with an initial $22.8 million to fund 90 extra Department of Veterans’ Affairs staff managing unprocessed enquiries.
This is set to be followed by a further $73.2 million for additional staff and other measures to further improve the veteran claims processing system.
“This takes the total new spending to $96 million with 145 new staff, building on our significant investment in the 2021-22 Budget,” Minister for Veterans’ Affairs and Defence Personnel Andrew Gee said.
Other veterans services measures include:
- increasing fees paid to providers in the Veterans’ Home Care program through a $70.5 million investment;
- an additional $22 million earmarked to grow the Psychiatric Assistance Dogs Program, including support for veterans with privately-sourced assistance dogs;
- expanding the Kookaburra Kids ‘Defence Kids’ program to more regional areas and Tasmania;
- a $2 million injection to support the work of Bravery Trust in providing financial counselling to serving & ex-serving members of the ADF;
- $9.0 million in new support for Invictus Australia athletes participating at the 2023 Invictus Games and bi-annual Warrior Games;
- $5.1 million to build a new pavilion at the Sandakan Memorial Park in Borneo to honour WWII Prisoners of War; and
- $4.9 million to create a Remembrance Trail on the Greek Island of Lemnos, in recognition of the Australian doctors, nurses and other service personnel who served there during the First World War.
“The women and men who serve this nation in uniform make incredible sacrifices for our country and we are ensuring that we repay our debt to them by providing the support they, and their families, need,” Minister Gee added.