Australia is developing defences against missile attack but the US THAAD anti-missile system is "not really suitable" for Australia, Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull says.
When asked on Friday about a possible Australian missile defence system against such threats as a North Korean intercontinental ballistic missile, Mr Turnbull said the Australian focus was on protecting deployed forces in the field.
Speaking to reporters in Hamburg, where he's attending the G20 summit, the prime minister said the answer to the Korean threat was the denuclearisation of North Korea.
"We are developing missile defences ... but the focus is on protecting our deployed forces in the field."
The question to Mr Turnbull was prompted by comments from former prime minister Kevin Rudd that Australia should consider deploying a missile defence system to defend against attack from a nuclear-armed North Korea.
The latest North Korean missile tests have raised fears the regime's weapons could reach parts of the US and northern Australia.
Mr Rudd said that given north Korean developments, "Australia would be well advised to begin analysing ballistic missile defence needs, available technologies and possible deployment feasibility to northern Australia".
Mr Turnbull said that in terms of a missile defence shield for Australia there had been talk of the THAAD system.
"That's not really suitable for our situation but I can assure you we are constantly examining how we can ensure that Australians are safe."
The THAAD (Terminal High Altitude Area Defence) system is a US Army anti-ballistic missile defence system.
"I do want to stress this, the answer in respect of North Korea is the denuclearisation of North Korea and for it to stop its reckless and provocative conduct," Mr Turnbull said.
He said the nation overwhelmingly with the greater leverage over North Korea was China.
Greens senator Scott Ludlam slammed Mr Rudd's suggestion, insisting Australia should instead de-escalate the situation through diplomacy and deal-making.
"The real hostages in this situation are the people of North and South Korea who, if this situation erupts, are at incredible risk," he told ABC TV on Saturday.
"I don't think, to be honest, Australia investing in a costly and failure-prone missile defence shield is the right way to go."