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Defence plan a rational and robust strategy: Conroy

The Australian Defence Force is looking to boost its numbers.

The Australian Defence Force is looking to boost its numbers. Photo: AAP

Foreign citizens will be allowed to join the Australian Defence Force in a major push to attract thousands of new recruits to fill an army shortfall.

Multiple media reports on Tuesday say New Zealanders and permanent residents from the UK, US, Canada and Pacific Islands will be allowed to join Australia’s military.

From next month, New Zealanders living in Australia will be able to apply.

The door will be opened to permanent residents from January 2025.

Permanent residents will have to have been living in Australia for one year and pass security checks and entry standards.

The government hopes to recruit more than 350 foreign soldiers and sailors this coming financial year, and thousands in coming years.

On Tuesday, Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy will invoke the sentiments of wartime Labor prime minister John Curtin while defending the Albanese government’s plans for the nation’s military.

In a speech at the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Defence Conference on Tuesday, Conroy will link the government’s actions to those of the Labor leader who led Australia through World War II.

The federal budget, handed down last month, secured an extra $5.7 billion for Defence over the next four years, and an addition $50 billion over the decade.

But ASPI’s budget analysis warns the government’s plans won’t improve the nation’s military capabilities for at least a decade as Beijing pledges to “crush” foreign forces.

Conroy will say his government through its budget, has acted as a trustee of the present and future of the nation’s defence.

“On coming to government, the easy thing for us to do would have been simply to tinker at the edges of Defence,” he will say.

“It would have been the easy thing to do, but it would have been the wrong thing to do.

“Instead, our government identified a need for rational and robust strategy to guide some of the biggest and most consequential investments a nation can make.”

Conroy is expected to set out the manufacture of guided weapons and explosive ordnance (GWEO) outlining how the government will work with defence industry and international partners.

“In the coming months, Australian industry can expect to see the government’s blueprint on the next stage of GWEO, backed with a commitment in the rebuilt IIP ( Integrated Investment Program) of $16 to $21 billion over the next decade,” he will say.

A Lowy Institute poll revealed 70 per cent of Australians believe China will become a military threat within two decades.

China’s Defence Minister Dong Jun told a major defence conference in Singapore over the weekend that Beijing’s military is ready to “forcefully” prevent Taiwan’s independence.

-with AAP

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