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Australia To Participate In US Missile Defence

Australia To Participate In US Missile Defence Program

Minister for Defence Media Mail List

Thursday, 4 December 2003
153/2003

AUSTRALIA TO PARTICIPATE IN US MISSILE DEFENCE PROGRAM

The Government has decided that Australia will participate in the United States' missile defence program, Defence Minister Robert Hill announced today.

Senator Hill said Australia was working with the US to determine the most appropriate forms of Australian participation that will not only be in our strategic defence interests but also provide maximum opportunities for Australian industry.

These could include: * Expanded cooperation to help detect missiles at the point of launch and therefore get early warning of an impending attack. * Acquisition of, or other cooperation in the fields of, ship-based and ground-based sensors. * Science and technology research development, testing and evaluation. Senator Hill said the missile defence program was a non-nuclear defensive system that did not threaten other countries. Its purpose was to be able to negate a ballistic missile threat and therefore discourage other countries from investing in ballistic missile systems.

Defence Update 2003, released in February, foreshadowed the increasing importance of missile defence in the 21st century.

"The Government is concerned that Australia might one day be threatened by long range missiles with mass destruction effect and believes that investment in defensive measures is important," Senator Hill said.

"Developing this capability will contribute to global, regional and Australia security by offering protection from missile attack and dissuading nations from acquiring or developing such weapons.

"There will also be opportunities for Australian industry. Our decision last year to invest in the systems development and demonstration phase of the Joint Strike Fighter program is already paying dividends, with nine contracts awarded to Australian companies to date. There is the potential for similar benefits from our involvement in the missile defence program."

Australia has had a long involvement in missile defence through hosting a ballistic missile early warning ground station for 29 years as the Joint Defence Facility Nurrungar and now as the relay ground station at Pine Gap in the Northern Territory.

ENDS

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