Darwin’s US naval base advances

Via the ABC comes more news on the growing US naval base near Darwin:

The United States military is preparing to spend more than a quarter of a billion dollars on naval construction in the Northern Territory, in a move that could raise tensions with China.

A recent draft US Congressional bill uncovered by the ABC reveals a total of $US211.5 million ($305.9 million) has been allocated for new “Navy Military Construction” in Darwin, but few other details are available.

According to the Senate’s annual defence legislation, tabled in June, the “Secretary of the Navy may acquire real property and carry out military construction projects for the installations or locations outside the United States”.

Just last month the ABC revealed that secret planning had begun for a new commercial port facility just outside Darwin which could eventually help US Marines operate more readily in the Indo-Pacific.

Following the report, Australia’s Defence Department insisted it had “no plans for the development of a new naval facility in the Northern Territory”, while Northern Territory Chief Minister Michael Gunner denied any knowledge of such a proposal.

In 2015, Washington expressed disappointment after Chinese company Landbridge was given a 99-year-lease of Darwin’s existing port, but Federal Government sources privately concede any new maritime facility which could be used by American personnel also risks angering Beijing.

Last week Australia and the United States both expressed concerns at an apparent secret deal allowing China exclusive rights to a Cambodian naval installation in the Gulf of Thailand.

Now, in response to fresh questions from the ABC, the Defence Department says it is still too early to comment on what the US military may have planned in the Northern Territory.

“The referenced document is the Senate version of the National Defense Authorization Act, which authorises (but does not appropriate) Defence initiatives,” the Department said in a statement.

“It is still progressing through the US Congress and must be reconciled with the House version before it is finalised. It is not yet approved.

“We expect the US Department of Defense will provide details of the funding in accordance with its processes and timelines following consideration and approval within the United States Government.”

However, the Defence Department insists the proposed funding, which is associated with United States Force Posture Initiatives (USFPI) projects, are “negotiated and agreed to by both Australian and US Governments”.

Last week, Defence Minister Linda Reynolds announced that the Marine Rotational Force in Darwin had “reached full strength”, with 2,500 US Marines now deployed in the Top End.

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.

The ABC has approached the US Embassy in Canberra for comment.

More the merrier.

David Llewellyn-Smith
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  1. When the US eventually bankrupts itself and has to bow to the reality that most of its foreign bases will have be abandoned will the one in Darwin be among those to survive the cut?

    I sure hope not, but ….

    • US isn’t even close to bankrupting itself. It is stupendously wealthy and productive. It just lost the political will and direction to do the things it needs to do. Trust me, the first actual hot part of this cold war will crystallise minds in Washington and we’ll see taxes increase, national champions created, and official engagement with the sectors the USA needs to have so as to beat the Chinese.

      • …the first actual hot part of this cold war will crystallise minds…
        you meant vaporise?
        You, me, all of us?

      • DominicMEMBER

        I think you may be looking at just one side of the ledger. Here, let me help:

        Federal debt: $22.5 trillion
        Add in all other debt (public & private): takes total to $70 trillion
        Throw in Unfunded liabilities for good measure: anywhere between $80 and $200 trillion

        … and those unfunded liabilities are on TOP of the actual outstanding debt.

        GDP: $19.4 trillion.

        Total debt/GDP (incl unfunded): 7.7x low end – 14x high end of range

        That looks pretty bankrupt to me. Just a matter of time.

  2. BubbleyMEMBER

    I’m in a pro’s and con’s mood about this.

    Pros – Darwin is a big slump (just like the rest of Oz) and this project will be good for the local economy and my biz.
    – It will balance out the Chinese owned Land Bridge corporation which owns the Darwin port and create a stalemate

    Cons – It will send rent and housing prices through the roof again.
    – It will make us more of a target to the Chinese if they decide on military action.

  3. bolstroodMEMBER

    Australia, a bone being fought over by 2 Pit Bulls.
    An earlier commenter today posted (on the Crown thread ) that Xi’s brother lives n Oz.
    Interesting times.

  4. david collyer

    Done right, the US and 5 Eyes partners may be able to defeat Chinese Communism without firing a shot. See: Ronald Reagan. The Chinese people would then be welcome as global partners and players.

    • If hypothetically say US won and destroyed communism, what happens next?
      eternal peace, no hungry children and down Yarra river 20yo whiskey starts flowing?

      • DominicMEMBER

        No, because the US does not have ‘peace’ as an objective. There are too many people in the US who make a living from the military industrial complex. ‘Peace’ means they lose their jobs and it means that all those US companies making munitions, ships, aircraft and tanks are in serious trouble.

  5. Last time I looked the US was an ally of Australia. If this raises tensions with China, a communist regime, then so f’ing what.
    China doesn’t need to invade Australia. It’s already doing it in stealth via property ownership.