Australia needs Taiwan-style ‘porcupine’ defense strategy, says Richard Marles
China was obviously not invited to participate in the exercises.
Asked about a proposal by John Bolton, Donald Trump’s former national security adviser, for Japan to join the AUKUS partnership as a bulwark against China’s growing influence in the Indo-Pacific, Marles said “I think we’re open-minded about it in time, but the focus now is on the relationship between the three countries in this space so that we’ve actually created something meaningful.
“I think we need to start there in order to create something that other countries might be interested in.”
Marles said other nations sharing “Five Eyes” intelligence such as Canada and New Zealand would be obvious candidates to join an expanded AUKUS partnership in the future, although they are extremely unlikely to join. acquire nuclear-powered submarines.
With Australia’s fleet of nuclear-powered submarines not expected to arrive from the US or UK until the 2040s, Marles said it was crucial to ensure Australia was not left without sufficient underwater firepower.
A separate review, to be published in March, will examine whether the life cycle of Australia’s current fleet of Collins-class ships can be extended long enough to fill the capacity gap.
“My mind is very open, but we need to do whatever it takes to close the capability gap until next-generation submarines hit the water,” Marles said. “We know extending Collins’ life will be part of that.”
The review will also recommend whether Australia will buy the US-made Virginia-class nuclear submarines or the British-built Astute-class ships.
Even as the conflict between Russia and Ukraine drags on beyond six months, Marles said the Australian government will continue to support Ukraine’s war effort with substantial military and financial assistance.
“We support and support Ukraine,” Marles said.
“We are engaged in the conflict because it is highly relevant to our national interests. The rules-based global order matters everywhere.
“It is important that it is respected in Eastern Europe and the Indo-Pacific: that is why we support Ukraine, even if it is far from Australia.”