Literature review

The "Joint Facilities" revisited: Desmond Ball, democratic debate on security, and the human interest

International relations Defence Australia North America

Richard Tanter examines Ball’s writings on these facilities, setting them in the wider context of Ball’s work on nuclear targeting, the transnational UKUSA intelligence and security community, and the possibilities and limits of self reliance in Australian defence. Reviewing developments in US-Australian “joint facilities” in Australia in the past decade, the paper examines the asymmetrical alliance cooperation involved in the technological, organisational and doctrinal integration of Australian defence forces with those of the United States. It then argues for a reconsideration of the balance of costs and benefits of the US facilities and the accompanying alliance grand bargain. The paper concludes with a re-consideration of Ball’s reluctant conclusion to the question of whether, on balance, the retention of the Joint Defence Facility Pine Gap is in the Australian national interest and the wider human interest.

Richard Tanter is Senior Research Associate at the Nautilus Institute, and professor in the School of Social and Political Studies at the University of Melbourne. Email:

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