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Tuesday, 16 November 2004
Page: 118

Senator Allison asked the Minister for Defence, upon notice, on 4 August 2004:

With reference to the Defence Capability Plan 2004-2013:

(1) Which of the defence acquisition and upgrade proposals listed in the section `Proposals by Estimated Expenditure' (pp 161-5) have become necessary following Australia's commitment to the United States of America (US) missile defence system.

(2) What technical components of Australia's defence and intelligence gathering services (other than the Jindalee over-the-horizon radar) have been committed to having a specific role in the US missile defence system.

(3) Following the signing of the Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) with the US on missile defence: (a) what action has the Government taken to assess the international political implications of Australia's involvement in the US missile defence system; and (b) given the importance of China in the missile defence debate and the importance of its relationship with Australia, has the Government made an assessment of the Chinese reaction to Australia's signing of the MOU; if so, what has been China's reaction.

Senator Hill (Minister for Defence) —The answer to the honourable senator's question is as follows:

(1) No acquisition or upgrade proposals have become necessary.

(2) The Relay Ground Station at the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap will continue its ballistic missile early warning function. No other technical components have been committed to having a specific role in the United States (US) missile defence system. The Jindalee Over the Horizon Radar is not committed to the US Missile Defence Program. Australia and the US are investigating the potential application of over-the-horizon radar to missile defence.

(3) (a) The Government believes that the region is generally understanding of our position on missile defence. We maintain a regular dialogue with other countries through ministerial and senior-level discussion, and brief regional countries on specific developments in our approach to missile defence as appropriate.

(b) Although China has stated its general opposition to missile defence, indicating its preference for using diplomatic and political means to respond to contemporary proliferation challenges, the Chinese Government has not been critical of Australia's decision to take part in the US Missile Defence Program.