Australia boosts defence spending by A$1 bn in latest coronavirus stimulus

By Colin Packham

SYDNEY (Reuters) - Australia will boost defence spending by A$1 billion ($716.80 million) to upgrade military facilities and offer additional paid employment to army reservists, as Canberra seeks to soften the economic blow of COVID-19.

In a fresh round of stimulus, Prime Minister Scott Morrison on Wednesday promised greater spending on defence in a bid to grow the country's military and support 4,000 jobs.

"Today is again about the JobMaker plan, doing everything we can as we grow out of the COVID-19 recession to ensure that we keep Australians in jobs, and we keep businesses in business," Morrison told reporters in Canberra.

While Australia has reported far fewer cases of COVID-19 compared to other developed countries, restrictions imposed to slow the spread of the virus have had a devastating impact on the country's economy, which will slip into a recession for the first time in three decades.

Australia has so far promised to spend about A$260 billion in stimulus to support its ailing economy.

The additional defence spending will also assist Australia with its commitment to grow defence spending to more than 2% of its Gross Domestic Product, a key demand of U.S. President Donald Trump who has accused allies of not pulling their weight.

Morrison said many of the military facilities earmarked for upgrades will be in areas impacted by bushfires earlier this year.

Fires razed more than 11 million hectares (37 million acres) of bushland across Australia's southeast early this year, killing at least 33 people and billions of native animals, a disaster that Morrison called Australia's "black summer".

The fresh stimulus will include A$200 million for military vehicle modifications.

Morrison also said A$80 million will be spent to offer additional part-time employment to 27,000 Australian Defence Force Reserve members.

Australia has reported 25,067 cases of COVID-19 and 525 deaths from the virus.

($1 = 1.3951 Australian dollars)

 

(Reporting by Colin Packham; Editing by Michael Perry)


(Only the headline and picture of this report may have been reworked by the Business Standard staff; the rest of the content is auto-generated from a syndicated feed.)


Dear Reader,


Business Standard has always strived hard to provide up-to-date information and commentary on developments that are of interest to you and have wider political and economic implications for the country and the world. Your encouragement and constant feedback on how to improve our offering have only made our resolve and commitment to these ideals stronger. Even during these difficult times arising out of Covid-19, we continue to remain committed to keeping you informed and updated with credible news, authoritative views and incisive commentary on topical issues of relevance.

We, however, have a request.

As we battle the economic impact of the pandemic, we need your support even more, so that we can continue to offer you more quality content. Our subscription model has seen an encouraging response from many of you, who have subscribed to our online content. More subscription to our online content can only help us achieve the goals of offering you even better and more relevant content. We believe in free, fair and credible journalism. Your support through more subscriptions can help us practise the journalism to which we are committed.

Support quality journalism and subscribe to Business Standard.

Digital Editor

Business Standard is now on Telegram.
For insightful reports and views on business, markets, politics and other issues, subscribe to our official Telegram channel