Leaders call for ‘missiles and infrastructure’ to protect $100bn assets in northern Western Australia


Defense installations such as missiles and large-scale bases should be built in Western Australia’s north to protect the region’s export industries, local leaders say.

The upstate generates hundreds of billions of dollars for the national economy, with most of the funds coming from the lucrative resource industry.

North West Defense Alliance (NWDA) chairman Peter Long, who is also the mayor of Karratha, said that despite the region’s importance to the country, it had long lacked investment and the attention of the community. part of the defence.

“We are really very concerned about the exposure we have in an increasingly dangerous world,” he said.

The NWDA is made up of nine local governments in the region, which currently has observer forces such as the Pilbara Regiment.

There are also two unmanned RAAF bases – at Curtin in the Kimberley and at Learmonth near Exmouth.

Peter Long wants to see more military personnel in the northwest.(ABC Pilbara: Susan Standen)

It was revealed on Friday that a high-tech Chinese surveillance vessel had been tracked off the WA coast near a secret naval facility in Exmouth which supports US and allied submarines.

Mr Long said Australia faced an uncertain strategic environment and called for a greater military presence to deter potential threats from directing aggression against local gas and mining assets.

“We have hundreds of billions of dollars of infrastructure being built here, and it’s really not protected at all,” he said.

“If something happens it will probably happen very quickly and we think we need more deterrence.

Ships in the port of Dampier
Export revenues from the iron ore industry are crucial to the region’s economy.(Provided: Pilbara Port Authority)

Ashburton’s Priority Base

The Ashburton Shire are members of the NWDA and will be pushing for a new defense base in the coastal town of Onslow.

General manager Ken Donohoe said base defense was a top priority for the board this year.

He said the proposed base would reduce Defense reliance on Henderson Naval Base more than 1,000 kilometers south in the Perth suburb of Kwinana.

He said the county wanted a refueling point built in Onslow and said it could save the Defense $6.1 million a year in fuel, food and human resource costs.

Mr. Donohoe said the idea had not been costed and there was no timeline for completion.

“It’s an advocacy position, and the council identifies … available assets,” he said.

A road sign with an illustration of a fish and the word 'Onslow'.
Ashburton Shire signaled Onslow’s potential as a defensive hub.(ABC Pilbara: Susan Standen)

A slowdown unlikely, but the region is vital

North Australia strategic policy expert John Coyne said the region was important for national security and long-term planning was needed.

He welcomed Ashburton County’s plan, but said it was unlikely to succeed because the pre-existing facilities at Onslow were not suitable.

Despite this, Dr Coyne said the region was a “connection point” between Australia and the global economy and had great potential for more defense installations.

“It has good strategic geography for Australia and its allies to be able to operate throughout the region.”

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The Chinese spy ship Haiwangxing sails along the WA coast.

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