Australian PM delivers national security strategy | Pacific Beat

Australian PM delivers national security strategy

Australian PM delivers national security strategy

Updated 24 January 2013, 9:06 AEST

The Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard has delivered her government's blueprint for Australia's national security, emphasising regional cooperation and increased cyber security.

Ms Gillard says the strategy focusses on Australia's role in achieving a secure region as the global economic and strategic centre of gravity shifts to Asia and the Pacific.

And a decade on from 9/11, the Prime Minister has identified the behaviour of states as the most important influence on Australia's national security thinking.

Correspondent: Karon Snowdon

Speakers: Julia Gillard, Australian Prime Minister; Dr Craig Snyder, regional defence analyst, Deakin University in Melbourne; Nigel Phair, Director, Centre for Internet Safety, University of Canberra

SNOWDON: It's the first national security statement since 2008, and complements last year's Asian Century White Paper and the forthcoming Defence White Paper.

Julia Gillard is firmly focussed on Asia where economic growth is leading to shifts in the established strategic order. She points to factors like increasing defence spending by some governments and resource pressure from population growth, emphasising the role of states not individuals or terrorist groups as the most critical.

GILLARD: All this means our strategic landscape is becoming more crowded and more complex. But it also remains true that it is the relationship between China and the United States, that more than any other, that 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 relation inevitably brings with it strategic competition, as China's global interests expand.

SNOWDON: Many of the potential flashpoints are old ones: North Korea, the Taiwan Straits, the East and South China Seas and India and Pakistan.

GILLARD: And they underline the need to build a regional order in Asia, which can manage strategic change peacefully. Indeed, nothing is more important in Australia's security outlook.

SNOWDON: The emhasis on the security challenges posed by state based threats rather non-state actors such as terrorists surprised Dr Craig Snyder, a regional defence analyst at Deakin University in Melbourne.

SNYDER: The Labor party, the current government is focussing on this idea that state-based threats will determine the nature of international relations in the coming decades. That was surprising.

SNOWDON: A theme Dr Snyder believes will be picked up by the defence white paper due later this year.

SNYDER: The Defence White Paper will talk more about the potential threat, the potential military challenge that the rise of China of have. High risk capability, that should things go wrong with China, this is what their capabilities are, this is what we might have to deal with. So I don't think there's any real discrepancies between the more positive statements here in the national security strategy statement, or in the Asia White Paper, versus what will come eventually in the Defence White Paper.

SNOWDON: Julia Gillard's first priority to deal with national security threats is the use multi-national diplomacy and partnerships, including and particularly she says, with business. The second area for increased vigilance is cyber security.

GILLARD: Australia is an attractive target for a range of malicious cyber actors, from politically-motivated hackers and criminal networks, to nation states.

PHAIR: I would argue it should be a number One priority.

SNOWDON: Nigel Phair is the Director of the Centre for Internet Safety at the University of Canberra.

PHAIR: Australia has a huge uptake in online environment, we're the second biggest users of smart phones, we're making more and more purchases online, banking application are in the top ten of mobile downloads - we really are an online environment. So it impacts all Australians.

SNOWDON: The security statement issued by the PM today also highlights the need for regional security, and presumably, that extends to areas of cooperation with our near neighbours in Asia about cyber security, as well as the more traditional forms. How possible is that? How much work is needed?

PHAIR: I think when we look at what we do, capacity-buildingwise, with regard to overseas development assistance in Asia, particularly in the Pacific, it would be very easy to assist those developing or less developed nations in their cyber security framework. Whether we like it or not, they're all getting online more and more. And there're risks to themselves, and there are risks to the broader internet infrastructure.

SNOWDON: By the end of this year, of a new Australian Cyber Security Centre to combine the capabilities of defence, police, intelligence agencies and the crime commission in a single location.

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