Barnaby’s missile strike warning

Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy and Air Vice-Marshall Gerry van Leeuwen address the media to make an announcement regarding Australian Defence Force long-range strike capabilities. Picture: NCA Newswire/ Gaye Gerard

The former deputy prime minister has warned of China’s ability to target Australia from the mainland after the government announced it will spend $1.7bn on long-range strike missiles.

Barnaby Joyce flagged concerns after the defence minister finalised a major weapons deal with the US on Monday.

“China has certainly got missiles that can hit Australia, make no mistake,” Mr Joyce told Sunrise.

“They've got hypersonics. They’ve parked a spy ship off our coast. They’ve put shards of foil into one of our planes causing massive problems to one of our Orion aircraft.

“They've had fixed military lasers on our aircraft from ships that were floating in our exclusive economic zone. We want the world to be peaceful but we’ve got to be strong enough to defend ourselves.”

Defence industry minister Pat Conroy said Australia will invest in “the most powerful and technologically advanced” weapons the country has ever seen. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard.

Mr Joyce’s comments come after the defence industry minister announced Australia will invest in “the most powerful and technologically advanced” weapons the country has ever seen.”

Under the new deal, Australia will acquire more than 200 Tomahawk cruise missiles from the US, making it only one of three nations to own the high-tech weaponry.

“As we enter what many are calling the missile age, these will be vital tools for the Australian Defence Force to do its job of defending Australians,” Defence Industry Minister Pat Conroy said.

“We are buying these weapons now to deliver capability quickly – but we are also considering options to manufacture missiles domestically because of the importance of building sovereign Australian defence manufacturing capabilities.”

Tomahawk missiles have a strike range of 1500km, and a ship-launched version will be deployed on the Royal Australian Navy’s Hobart-class destroyers.

Air Vice-Marshall Gerry van Leeuwen said there were plans to start domestic manufacture of missiles by 2025. Picture: NCA Newswire/Gaye Gerard

Defence Minister Richard Marles told Labor’s national conference last week that China would have 21 nuclear submarines and 200 major warships in the water by 2030.

“This is the world in which we live and it is our unavoidable obligation to navigate our way through it,” Mr Marles said.

“Our government is planning to replace six diesel-electric submarines with eight conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines over the course of the next 30 years. Given what we face, it is a modest step.”

China issued an official warning to Australia on the weekend arguing that defence agreements should be “conducive to world peace, and not target any third party or harm others interests.”