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Defence workforce to grow above 100,000

HMAS Hobart departs Pearl Harbor in Hawaii after the successful completion of Exercise Rim of the Pacific 2020. Photo: RAN

The size and capability of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) will be significantly increased to keep Australians safe in an increasingly uncertain global environment, Prime Minister Scott Morrison announced on 10 March. Under the plan ADF personnel will increase by around 30 per cent by 2040, taking the total permanent ADF to almost 80,000 personnel.

Overall, Defence’s total permanent workforce will increase to over 101,000 by 2040 – an increase of 18,500 over baseline growth already agreed in the 2020 Force Structure Plan.

The estimated cost of this expansion is at least $38 billion over the period to 2040, which is a significant investment in ensuring the ADF has the right people and skills to keep Australia safe.

Prime Minister Scott Morrison said there was never a more important time to invest in increasing the size of the Australian Defence Force.

“The first priority of my Government is keep Australians safe and to do that we need a bigger ADF with more soldiers, sailors and airmen and women to operate the cutting-edge capabilities we’re getting to protect Australia,” he said. “Our world is becoming increasingly uncertain so it’s important we take steps now to protect our people and our national interest over the coming decades.

“You can’t flick a switch to increase your army, navy and air force overnight. Growing the type of people and skills we need to face the threats of the future takes time, so we must start now so critical skills can be taught and experience gained.”

ADF personnel will be increased in every state and territory with a particular focus on capabilities associated with the trilateral security partnership between Australia, the United Kingdom and United States (AUKUS), as well as air, sea, land, space and cyber, Morrison added. The majority of the growth is expected to occur in QLD, NSW, SA and WA.

Minister for Defence Peter Dutton said under the 2020 Force Structure Plan workforce growth was critical to deliver and operate the capabilities Defence needs to secure Australia’s strategic environment, protect Australia’s interests, and build a credible military force.

“Defence operates with a highly integrated workforce spanning the Australian Defence Force, civilians and industry providers, with each bringing specialised skills and expertise,” Minister Dutton said.

“This growth in workforce and expertise will enable us to deliver our nuclear-powered submarines, ships, aircraft and advanced weapons. It will mean we can build warfighting capabilities in the domains of space, and information and cyber.

“It will also build the resilience we need in critical areas and enable our people to increase intelligence, information and communications capacity.”

The Government remains committed to developing a strong, sustainable and secure Australian defence industry and supports leading edge national innovation, said the Prime Minister. Defence industry will be fundamental to supporting Defence’s capability delivery and workforce growth to deliver current and enhanced technologies, systems and equipment. Through initiatives such as the Defence Industry Skilling and STEM Strategy, Defence continues to help industry equip itself with the skilled workforce it requires to support the Australian Defence Force.

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