Marine charged with sexual intercourse without consent

A US Marine appeared in court after being charged with rape, charges he will seek to contest.

The man appeared in the Darwin Local Court on Wednesday charged with sexual intercourse without consent.

He was joined in court by members of his marine corps.

The case returns for a preliminary examination mention on July 3, where the defendant is excused.

Darwin’s US tank farm has been hit by major delays

The US military could be waiting until next year for the handover of 11 fuel storage tanks currently under construction at Darwin’s East Arm.

Originally scheduled for completion last September, the opening was put back until this July but with just weeks to go, construction flaws and permitting issues continue to dog the $270m development.

The liners beneath the tanks are leaking, environmental permits remain in limbo and building certifications are unresolved.

A spokesperson for the Department of Infrastructure, Planning and Logistics, which has carriage over certification, said under the Act, a building permit was required before work starts, and work must be certified or approved at the end of construction before occupancy.

Defence to spend up to $18 billion on 'hardening' northern Australia's bases

The federal funding boost will upgrade bases in the Northern Territory, Western Australia and North Queensland during the coming decade, as part of Defence's pivot towards the Indo-Pacific.

Darwin's Larrakeyah Defence Precinct will be upgraded to berth submarines, but Mr Conroy said Australia's future nuclear submarine fleet would not be based in the Top End.

He said the government was focused on "hardening and developing" bases in the Northern Territory, as well as other installations in northern Western Australia and North Queensland.

"The NT is critical to the defence of the nation, not just in defending Australia but projecting power out into our region against any potential adversary," Mr Conroy said. He said the funding would go towards projects such as surveillance aircraft based at RAAF Tindal, near Katherine, and the purchasing and training of crew for new amphibious landing craft based in Darwin.

Feds pledge $14-18bn to bolster northern defence bases

The federal government’s 2024 Integrated Investment Program has allocated $14 to $18bn over the next decade to strengthen bases in the NT, northern Queensland and northern Western Australia, and contribute to enhanced collective security of the Indo-Pacific.

In Darwin for a defence summit, Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said “the lion’s share” of the funding would flow to the Territory.

“Nearly $400m on the Robertson Barracks redevelopment, $1.5bn on RAAF Base Tindal, hundreds of millions of dollars going into the United States Force Posture Initiatives training areas – they’re just a few examples of the billions of dollars that will go into the NT to develop these bases, which means a safer and stronger ADF and more jobs for Territorians.”

None of the funding was guaranteed for Territory companies, but Mr Conroy said he expected “most” of the money to flow to local industry.

big spending on northern bases

Northern Australia had already got a big boost in the 2023 Defence Strategic Review, including $3.8 billion to improve the Australian Defence Force’s ability to operate and project force from our northern bases. Of that, $2 billion will be spent in the Northern Territory.

In the decade out to 2034, Australia will spend 4 percent of a whopping $765 billion defence budget—more than $30 billion—on hardening and upgrading northern bases. And $14-18 billion of that is coming down the pipeline soon. That’s big money.

RAAF Darwin is undergoing runway upgrade works so it can withstand heavy use by military and civilian aircraft, which is vital, and RAAF Tindal, 280 kilometres southeast, will host far-flying MQ-4C Triton, uncrewed maritime patrollers that will begin arriving this year.

Then there’s the army, which gets $7-10 billion for new littoral manoeuvre capabilities and $5-7 billion in related facilities in Queensland and Darwin, where three army units with 18 medium landing craft and eight heavy landing craft will be based. That equipment is central to our ability to transform the army into an amphibious force that can operate in the archipelagos and islands to our north and east.

"Picture the manoeuvres of the British and US planes that shot down Iranian missiles heading for Israel in April—only this time over the Arafura Sea, again." - *headdesk*