Australia's National Security Beyond the 9/11 Decade
WED 23 JANUARY 2013
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In Coonabarabran recently I met a woman who told me with tears in her eyes that she had lost her home.
The next thing she said was, ‘but the family’s all safe and that’s what matters’.
Words from the heart and words of wisdom.
When you have faced the worst, the recognition that life, safety, security is what matters most is sharp.
As Prime Minister, for our nation, I have to keep that recognition sharp every day.
To join realism with patriotism and to act to keep our nation secure in the modern world.
Our national security is and will always be the most basic expression of our sovereignty.
Through the work of national security, we secure our borders, protect our people and pursue our interests in the world.
Like every country, those interests often overlap with those of allies, neighbours and partners.
But ultimately, our national interests are distinctively our own – pursued for our own reasons, driven by our values and dictated by no other.
So conscious of the weight of the responsibility and conscious too of the need to continually refresh our thinking in this time of change, I today launch Strong and Secure: A Strategy for Australia’s National Security.
This National Security Strategy is Australia’s first. I have decided that our nation must have such a strategy for three clear reasons.
First, because national security is the most fundamental task of government.
Second, because we are transitioning from one decade, the decade of 9/11, to a post 9/11 era where some risks and challenges endure and others are evolving rapidly.
Third, because national security absorbs some eight per cent of what the Federal Government spends on behalf of the Australian people, and the priorities for that expenditure should be defined.
For each of these reasons, clarity is demanded in our strategic thinking and actions.
Today, I will outline that thinking and those actions.
On September 11, 2001, in those dreadful short moments when we watched the twin towers collapse half a globe away, we all learned what it feels like to have your assumptions about your life and your security ripped away.
Even as we mourned our losses, it was clear to lay people and security professionals alike that the world had changed in an immediate and fundamental manner.
We entered what Allan Gyngell has described as the ‘national security decade’ but what could also be described as the 9/11 Decade.
A decade in which we also lived through the Bali attacks, the Iraq war and Afghanistan, where the fight continues.
A decade in which we were called to mount missions in East Timor and Solomon Islands.
In the wake of 9/11, new anti-terrorism laws were introduced and our overall intelligence budgets tripled.
Terrorism dramatically changed the way national security was conceptualised and the way it was undertaken.
It broadened our view of which agencies across government contribute to our nation’s security.
It keenly highlighted the need for a “joined up” national security community – within and between intelligence agencies and across the fields of intelligence, law enforcement and border protection.
The private sector and the wider community became closer partners in achieving this endeavour.
We looked at how we could maintain cohesion and harmony in a multicultural, multi-faith society placed under a period of tension and strain.
We understood that 9/11 was an attack on our values and way of life and so in responding we carefully weighed what needed to be done for our security with our values of democracy, fairness, respect for individuals, their rights and freedoms.
Adding it all together, we carved out a new understanding of our national security.
Australia’s responses to this period of transformation culminated in Prime Minister Rudd's National Security Statement in 2008.
This Statement outlined, for the first time, a pathway of “binding the detailed and diverse work of the national security community into a coherent, coordinated whole.”
The Statement recognised the need for even closer integration of our national security effort, and the modernisation of Australia's national security structures.
As a result, the Government appointed our country’s first National Security Adviser to improve strategic direction within the national security community and across the public sector.
We introduced better coordination of budgets across national security agencies.
We established this institution, the National Security College, to educate Australia’s current and future national security leaders.
And since the galvanising events of September 11 and Bali, our partners and Australia have secured some significant successes.
Osama Bin Laden is dead.
Al Qaeda’s senior leadership is fractured.
Jemaah Islamiah has been decimated in our region.
Here at home, numerous terrorist plots have been thwarted, and 23 convictions have resulted from the prosecution of those who planned such attacks.
Afghanistan will soon take full responsibility for its own security, with transition in Uruzgan on track to be completed by the end of this year and by the end of 2014 for Afghanistan as a whole.
There have been other changes since Mr Rudd’s statement.
Our work in Iraq has been completed.
In East Timor, our security presence has been drawn down after almost 13 years of involvement.
Likewise, the Regional Assistance Mission to Solomon Islands is transitioning to a law enforcement assistance mission.
At the same time, the effects of the Global Financial Crisis –only then beginning to unfold in 2008 – are now very clear.
We can see that years of fiscal stringency lie ahead for Australia and for our allies and partners in the United States, the UK and Europe.
These changes and continuities inform the National Security Strategy I launch today.
The National Security Strategy is an open statement to the Australian community, our business sector and to domestic and international partners.
Our plans and intentions are clear for all to see.
The Strategy identifies our national security objectives and surveys our national security outlook.
It sets out what we judge to be the key risks to our security and describes the policies, institutions and capabilities – the key pillars – which protect us.
The National Security Strategy will also inform priority-setting in a time of fiscal constraint.
This will ensure we maximise the return on the considerable investment made by taxpayers in our national security efforts.
It will also help bring our national security agencies closer together, providing greater coordination of effort as we meet the challenges of the future.
Importantly, the Strategy builds on the changes heralded in the 2008 National Security Statement and complements the Asian Century White Paper and the forthcoming Defence White Paper.
The Asian Century White Paper is the roadmap for how Australia can thrive in an Asian Century replete with opportunities.
But it also made clear that our national objectives in the region can only be realised if there is sustainable security in Asia.
The National Security Strategy therefore charts the course for Australia to play its part in achieving that aim – a secure nation in a secure region.
This Strategy is being released as Australia enters a new era
of national security imperatives.
I offer you three intersecting conclusions about the national security imperatives of the next decade and consequently the risks our nation will face.
First, our principal national security focus will be on our own region, as the global economic and strategic centre-of-gravity continues to move east, bringing great opportunities but also risks and challenges that must be managed.
Second, it will be an era in which the behaviour of states, not non-state actors, will be the most important driver and shaper of Australia’s national security thinking.
Third, it will be an era in which diplomacy will be critical as we and our friends and partners in the region strive to master the complexities and new dynamics of a multipolar world.
The key risks that we see ahead include:
• The traditional and familiar risks that nations have always faced such as espionage and foreign interference,
state-based conflict, and coercion affecting our interests;
• The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, specifically Iran’s nuclear program and North Korea’s continuing missile and nuclear programs, which are serious threats to world peace and regional stability; and
• Instability in developing and fragile states.
While understanding and managing state-based risks will require renewed effort, this does not mean that terrorism is defeated or we should ignore the malign intent of non-state actors.
Therefore, the National Security Strategy also identifies as clear risks:
• Terrorism and violent extremism; and
• An increasing burden from serious and organised crime.
Recent events in Mali and the terrible murders in Algeria remind us that terrorism remains an enduring threat
Global terrorism showed us on 9/11 that it has the capacity to surprise us and surpass our worst fears.
It could do so again, so we will always be vigilant.
And as we transition in Afghanistan, our commitment to our goal of ensuring it is never again a safe haven for terrorism remains undiminished.
As a result we are making a significant commitment to funding the Afghan National Security Forces after 2014, and we will make an ongoing contribution to their training.
The Government will also consider a contribution to a Special Forces counter-terrorism mission in Afghanistan, but under the right mandate.
In fighting organised crime, we work at the interface between national security and domestic policing issues.
For example, our current work at Australia’s borders to stop and seize illegal guns matters for community safety.
Communities, such as those in Sydney’s West, rightly want to know every level of government is acting on their concerns about community safety and we are working together.
In this digital era we also face the new and growing threat from state and non-state actors of malicious cyber activity which poses such dangers to government, to business and to individuals.
So this too is a risk clearly identified in the Strategy.
Understanding these risks clarifies the strategic environment and the likely contours of the decade of the ahead.
But in commissioning this Strategy, I did not want this merely to be a list of risks and challenges, or a statement of doctrine.
I also wanted clear priorities to direct Government activity and resources in a real and concrete way.
Accordingly, the National Security Strategy identifies three specific areas where the Government will be dedicating increased effort over the next five years.
First, effective partnerships.
In an increasingly complex and interconnected strategic environment, we can only succeed by working smart and by working together.
Working smart means clear priorities.
Defining those priorities is the purpose of this Strategy and I today commit to updating this strategy every five years or sooner, should events require it.
Under the auspices of this Strategy, we will continue to refine our analysis of national security risks and further improve our coordinated national security budget process.
We will also develop a National Security Capability Plan to complement the Defence Capability Plan.
In pursuit of clear priorities, it is easier to reach out and include others in the effort.
By others, I not only mean all parts of the Federal Government, but also our colleagues in the States and Territories, foreign governments and non-governmental partners, particularly business.
So, in pursuit of partnerships, my message to our national security community is: if you see a silo, dig it up.
Not just because a silo mentality constrains thinking but it also risks wasting resources.
The National Security Decade was a time of rapid ramp-up in resources.
Now, inevitably, we are in a period of consolidation and we need to get the most value out of every dollar expended.
Therefore our national security arrangements must adapt and respond, harnessing information, ideas and capabilities from all sources and prioritising our spending in a clear-headed way.
The second identified area for increased effort is cyber security.
As we roll out the National Broadband Network, we are deploying a more sophisticated focus on cyber security.
Australia is an attractive target for a range of malicious cyber actors, from politically-motivated hackers and criminal networks to nation-states.
This not only has the potential to affect governments but businesses and the community alike.
For the public sector, we must ensure that our most important networks are some of the hardest to compromise in the world.
But government alone cannot develop a secure and safe digital environment.
We must continue to work closely with industry and international partners to develop a set of global ‘norms’ for online behaviour.
The Internet must remain open but also be secure.
The Government has already committed substantial funding and additional effort to strengthen our cyber capabilities, including $1.46 billion out to 2020 to strengthen our most sensitive networks.
I have also established the Office of the Cyber Policy Coordinator within my Department to provide leadership and coordination on this important issue.
In the same spirit, tomorrow I will formally announce the development, by the end of this year, of a new Australian Cyber Security Centre
This will be a world-class facility combining existing cyber security capabilities across the Attorney-General’s Department, Defence, ASIO, the Australian Federal Police and the Australian Crime Commission in a single location.
It will provide Australia with an expanded and more agile response capability to deal with all cyber issues — be they related to government or industry, crime or security.
Importantly it will also create a hub for greater collaboration with the private sector, State and Territory governments and international partners to combat the full breadth of cyber threats.
Malicious cyber activity will likely be with us for many decades to come, so we must be prepared for a long, persistent fight.
Perhaps nothing better characterises the National Security Strategy than the third of our key focus areas, enhanced regional engagement.
This acknowledges the shift in the global strategic and economic centre-of-gravity to our region and the need for security as the indispensable foundation of prosperity.
Asia’s rise is, of course, no surprise for Australia.
As far back as 1989 the Garnaut White Paper served notice, if any was needed, that Australia’s future lay in Asia.
Indeed, our engagement with the region can be traced back to the Chifley government’s support for Indonesian independence in the 1940s and the commerce agreement with Japan in 1957.
We have a long tradition of engagement to draw on.
But Asia is changing as economic growth leads to shifts in the established strategic order.
We are seeing rising government incomes enabling many states to modernise their defence forces with more advanced capabilities.
At the same time, population growth and rising wealth levels are putting pressure on energy, water and food resources.
All this means our strategic landscape is becoming more crowded and complex.
But it also remains true that it is the relationship between China and the United States that more than any other will determine the temperature of regional affairs in coming decades.
We remain optimistic about the ability of China and the United States to manage change in the region, but their relationship inevitably brings with it strategic competition as China’s global interests expand.
None of these developments of themselves make major power conflict inevitable but they do make the consequences of any conflict more far-reaching and dangerous.
They raise the cost of any miscalculation that may occur in a range of regional flashpoints such as North Korea, the Taiwan Straits, the South China and East China seas or India-Pakistan.
And they underline the need to build a regional order in Asia which can manage strategic change peacefully.
The remarkable growth we see in Asia could not have happened without an environment of relative peace and stability.
Continuing and deepening that climate of relative peace and stability is at the forefront of Australia’s national security agenda.
Indeed, nothing is more important in Australia’s security outlook.
That is why last year’s Asian Century White Paper made it very clear that we need to construct
“a peace in which all the region’s countries have a voice in its future, which is guided by established rules and transparent behaviour and in which decisions are taken without threats of the use of force or other forms of intimidation.”
In other words, we must strive to shape a secure international environment that builds trust and is built on trust.
It is the only the way we will continue to enjoy the growth and prosperity that has so transformed our region and its future.
In preparing for the future, Australians need to be confident that we can also shape that future.
The post-war period has taught us just how successful we can be as a creative middle power with links to the old and new worlds, backed by credible military and economic strength.
So Australia has a key role to play in building patterns of cooperation and trust, in the Asia-Pacific and in the wider world.
This understanding is an enduring pillar of Australia’s approach to national security.
We know that no single relationship, arm of government or multilateral body will deliver the understanding, trust and action required to secure a peaceful and stable Asian Century.
It is more complex than that but I am optimistic of our ability to manage this complexity.
After all, Australia is the world’s twelfth largest economy.
We have a place on the G20 and have secured its hosting.
We now hold a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, putting us at the centre of international cooperation on peace and security.
We have long championed a multilateral, rules-based order in our region in which disputes are resolved peacefully, without the use or threat of force or coercion.
We support efforts to build a stronger East Asia Summit in which all countries have a voice and which can help manage regional strategic change and build confidence.
We are helping strengthen defence-to-defence dialogue through the ASEAN Defence Ministers “plus” meeting.
We support our ally the United States in continuing to play its role as a stabilising force in the region.
We are building deeper relationships with China, Indonesia, India, Japan and Korea, amongst others.
We will increase our diplomatic footprint abroad, and increase the expertise of our professionals working in the Asian region.
Our diplomatic efforts are complemented by an aid program that focuses on the Asia-Pacific and a strong network of law enforcement and intelligence relationships.
Importantly, Australia will continue to maintain one of the strongest military capabilities in our region.
Let this be clear: in a time of fiscal constraint, we will keep the Australian Defence Force strong.
Our level of defence expenditure will ensure that Australia remains one of the top 15 nations for absolute defence spending, and second only to the United States on a per capita basis among the G7 countries plus China.
Our ADF will have the best people with the right equipment for the challenges of the Asian Century.
As we transition from East Timor, Solomon Islands and Afghanistan, our Defence Force will fix its sights on extending and deepening relationships across the region.
This will include joint military exercises and high-level military exchanges with China, reflecting in defence the cooperative spirit that exists in the other aspects of our friendship.
A strong nation will possess a credible defence force.
A wise nation will work hard never to require its use.
The 9/11 decade is ending and new one is taking its place.
That’s why I launch this National Security Strategy today.
As an active middle power with global interests, Australia will work hard to anticipate threats and protect the nation.
Nothing in our grasp will be left to chance.
We will shape the world in our interests and values not just respond to events as they arise.
We will ensure that Australia remains secure at home and strong in the world.
We will keep our nation safe.