The Australian Government has today released the public version of its Defence Strategic Review (the Review), the Government’s response to the Review, and the National Defence Statement 2023.
Commissioned in the first 100 days of the Albanese Government, the Review sets the agenda for reform to Defence’s posture and structure. The Government’s response to the Review sets out a blueprint for Australia’s strategic policy, defence planning and resourcing over the coming decades.
The Albanese Government has agreed, or agreed in-principle with further work required, to the public Review recommendations, and has identified six priority areas for immediate action:
- Acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines through AUKUS to improve our deterrence capabilities;
- Developing the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) ability to precisely strike targets at longer-range and manufacture munitions in Australia;
- Improving the ADF’s ability to operate from Australia’s northern bases;
- Initiatives to improve the growth and retention of a highly skilled Defence workforce;
- Lifting our capacity to rapidly translate disruptive new technologies into ADF capability, in close partnership with Australian industry; and
- Deepening of our diplomatic and defence partnerships with key partners in the Indo-Pacific.
Realising the ambition of the Review will require a whole-of-government effort, coupled with a significant financial commitment and major reform.
“My Government commissioned the Defence Strategic Review to assess whether Australia had the necessary defence capability, posture and preparedness to best defend Australia and its interests in the strategic environment we now face,” said Prime Minister Anthony Albanese.
The Albanese Government’s response to the Review includes specific directions to Defence with immediate effect, while establishing a methodical and comprehensive process for long-term implementation. To inform this, the Government has accepted the Review’s recommendation for an inaugural National Defence Strategy in 2024, to be updated biennially.
The National Defence Strategy will encompass a comprehensive plan of Defence policy, planning, capabilities and resourcing, including reprioritisation of the Integrated Investment Program, in line with the recommendations of the Review.
Less red tape for Industry promised
According to a joint statement by Australia’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Industry, the Government has directed Defence to immediately begin work to:
- Remove unnecessary barriers to acquisitions.
- Streamline strategically important projects and low-complexity procurements.
- Make faster decisions in the delivery of Defence projects.
- Develop practical solutions in close consultation with defence industry.
According to the Government, the reforms will cut red tape and see Defence become a better partner with industry. Defence Industry Development Strategy due later this year will set out:
- The strategic rationale for a sovereign defence industrial base.
- More targeted and detailed Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities.
- A plan to grow industry’s workforce to deliver a viable industrial base and increase Australia’s defence exports.
- Reforms to defence procurement to support the development of Australian defence industry and respond to the Review.
- Mechanisms to improve security within defence businesses.
- A detailed implementation plan.
“The Albanese Government is determined to reform Defence and its capability acquisition processes to ensure our defence forces have the capabilities they need and sooner,” said Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles.
“We are determined to provide the clarity and guidance that industry needs to make informed business decisions based on Australia’s priorities,” said Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy.
“There’s no time to lose, but it’s also essential that Government works closely with industry and unions to get this right, and to build the industrial base we need for our future national security.”
The public version of the Defence Strategic Review is available at: https://www.defence.gov.au/about/reviews-inquiries/defence-strategic-review.