This report argues that successive Australian governments have failed to define an effective national defence strategy.
Australia’s inability to clearly and succinctly define its defence strategy is a perennial failing that will have serious policy and operational consequences if not addressed. Australia’s recent defence white papers are part of the problem: they lack coherence, their messaging is poor, and many of their underlying assumptions and planning practices are questionable.
The forthcoming defence white paper provides the first real opportunity for the Abbott government to carry out a much-needed reset of Australia’s defence and military strategies. In place of a maritime strategy, Australia needs to adopt a “full spectrum” approach to defence that can provide protection against military threats from outer space and cyber space, as well as the conventional domains of land, sea and air. Full spectrum defence must be underpinned by deeper and broader regional defence partnerships and by a risk assessment process that encourages critical thinking about strategy and the future capabilities of the Australian Defence Force.