The Australian government has reneged on its 1984 commitment to the UN “that it had no intention of making the Cocos (Keeling) Islands into a strategic military base or of using the Territory for that purpose” - part of the agreement to the Act of Self Determination for Cocos to be integrated into Australia.
Federal government MP Luke Gosling said the country's north would be prepared to play its part. "There's no doubt that the Northern Territory and the Top End will be part of the [nation's] missile story," he said. "Why? Because we're defending Australia, and obviously, you can get more range into the northern approaches to Australia from the Top End."
The national significance of key Northern Territory infrastructure assets has been singled-out in a crucial new defence review released on Monday.
The Defence Strategic Review found recent severe flooding which closed the Stuart Highway and Alice Springs to Darwin railway this year had “highlighted the importance” of well-maintained resilient civil infrastructure, including ports and roads that support the network.
The future role of Robertson Barracks, home to the 1st Brigade, in our ongoing defence is unclear, but could potentially be beefed up.
The report forecasts “significant changes to army force posture and structure”, saying army combat brigades “may be re-roled and select capabilities postured in Northern Australia”.
One of six key recommendations is to improve the Australian Defence Force’s capacity to operate from Australia’s northern bases.
Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said Tuesday that the US will increase its military presence in Australia in a buildup aimed at China.
In a joint press conference with Australia’s defense minister and foreign minister, Austin said that the US will increase its rotational forces in Australia. “That includes rotations of bomber task forces, fighters, and future rotations of US Navy and US Army capabilities,” Austin said.
Many countries in the region are not eager to get on board with the US’s confrontational approach to China. The prime minister of Papua New Guinea said this week that his country can’t afford to get caught between the US and China and said he told the US your “enemy is not my enemy.”
Indonesia’s president expressed similar concerns during a meeting of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) in November, saying the ASEAN must not let the region turn into a frontline for a new Cold War.
Details on the rotational deployments aren’t clear, but they will likely focus on the Australian city of Darwin in the Northern Territory, where US Marines have been rotating through for years.
"We'll also continue to find ways to further integrate our defence industrial bases in the years ahead."