US $400m Darwin military plan
THE United States military plans to spend more than $400 million on navy and air force facilities in the Northern Territory.
A defence bill tabled in the US Senate last month outlines that $US 211.5 million ($AUD 306 million) has been allocated for navy construction projects in Darwin.
The bill also shows $US 70.6 million ($AUD 102.1 million) earmarked for air force military construction at RAAF Base Tindal, located near Katherine.
The Australian Defence Department reportedly told the ABC that the proposed funding still had to be approved by Congress, but insists that any military projects are negotiated and agreed to by both governments.
NT Chief Minister Michael Gunner said he intends to talk to the Federal Government to find out more about what the funding was earmarked for.
"I do know the US are spending about a billion dollars in the NT on defence infrastructure as a part of their Force Posture Initiative but all that money to date has been spent on existing Australian facilities," he told ABC Darwin on Monday morning.
"When the US Secretary of Navy was here in Darwin … I briefed him on the ship lift facility and they were very interested in that because their only repair facilities are in Japan and Guam.
"Obviously we don't know what this $300 million is earmarked for, but conveniently it's the same amount of money we're asking the Australian government for, which shows the American government is more interested in investing in naval facilities in the north more than the Australian government is."
Last month Defence and Mr Gunner rejected claims a top secret naval port is in the works at Glyde Point, north of Darwin, which could eventually help US Marines operate more readily in the Indo-Pacific.
The construction of a port facility at Glyde Point has been floated by various governments over recent decades but Mr Gunner said the project was still some way off.
Darwin achieved a major milestone last week with the arrival of additional US Marines, reaching 2500 for the first time to join the 2019 Marine Rotational Force.
MORE TO COME.