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Australia does not have a National Security Strategy

We had one in 2013 … but it has since faded from view to be replaced by stovepiped, reactive, security policies.

On 23 January 2013 the Gillard Labor Government launched its National Security Strategy, an Australian first according to the document. Unfortunately, Prime Minister Gillard failed to put her National Security Strategy to Parliament; it was not even tabled in the House.

Despite the criticisms about this ‘strategy’ never being tabled in the Parliament, there were elements of it that reflected a level of maturity and completeness with regard to an understanding of what ‘national security’ actually needs to encompass. For example …

 ‘Vision: a unified national security system that works with partners to anticipate threats, protects the nation and shapes the world in Australia’s interests.’

This was a system that recognised national security involves Departments beyond Defence such as Resources, Energy and Tourism (as it was then) and Health and Ageing.  Indeed, the language of ‘system’ is rarely heard these days when security is discussed.  The Vision also singled out ‘Resource security and scarcity’ and ‘climate change’ as having ‘national security implications’.

In the PM’s Foreword she noted … ‘there is no higher responsibility for a government than the security of the nation … We are entering a new national security era, in which the rapid economic and strategic change occurring in our region will be the most significant influence on our national security environment and policies.’ She later notes that ‘The overall security of a nation is inextricably linked to economic stability, resource sufficiency, good governance and social cohesion …’

Who in government / parliament talks about good governance these days ? If they do, it does not appear to be evident in much of their actions or policies. Are we seeing Politics and Party in lieu of governance in the national interest ?

So, to February 2019 …

“Our Plan for Keeping Australians Safe and Secure” - Liberal Party Feb19 Announcement

Is this the Government’s National Security Plan ? It mentions National Security, but falls far short of a real Strategy and Plan.

Two ANU students, Samuel Bashfield a postgraduate student and James Mortensen a doctoral candidate, have produced an excellent analysis in their article in the Diplomat: Australia’s Liberal Party Releases National Security Plan Ahead of May Elections … The plan broadens the church of national security but it doesn’t provide much clarity.” They conclude that while the plan … is noteworthy in its distinct broadening of the church of national security … without a clear notion of how these issues fit within the wider frame of national security – or without even a clear conception of what Australia’s national security outcomes are – the plan poses more questions than it answers.

Perhaps it is a political manifesto targetted at the next election and not a coherent National Security strategy and plan?


to be continued … The need for a National Security Strategy