James Holmes, a strategist at the Naval War College, wrote Dec. 9 in National Interest magazine that concerns about China could boost Australian support for a permanent U.S. military presence Down Under. “Stationing military forces overseas inspires trust. In turn, an unbreakable bond between America and Australia could give China pause the next time it contemplates making mischief,” he wrote.
The draft US legislation also outlines several other proposed spending projects in the Northern Territory including $US50 million for a "new airport parking apron for the Navy", and $US70.6 million for the Air Force at Tindall.
He said the base was clearly of benefit to Australia and the US and in response to the growing influence of China in the region. “That has to come at a price,” he said. “You can’t just come in and expect me to welcome you, and face all the social problems, while your people are safe in Australia and America. “If there is a war we are the first ones to face the missiles and you will be safe in your country.”
The ABC is reporting senior defence and federal government officials conceded the proposal may anger China even though it would be built as an industrial port.
However if approved it could eventually accommodate “large amphibious warships” such as landing helicopter docks and US military ships.
The ABC said it approached the Defence Department and the US Embassy in Canberra for comment, but both are yet to respond to detailed questions on timing and costs.
In a statement, the department said “Defence has no plans for the development of a new naval facility in the Northern Territory” while the US embassy declined to comment.
The NT Government says it is unaware of any plans for a US war base in Darwin.
In his first official visit to Darwin in May, US Ambassador to Australia Arthur Culvahouse said US relations to Australia were expected to build in the coming years.
Gunn Point Rd recently underwent $38 million upgrades which saw the resealing of the 35km stretch of road as well as resealing of Murrumujuk Rd.
China would see this as an affront to their strategic ambitions in the Pacific region.