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Today at the National Press

Club - the Defence Minister,

Joel Fitzgibbon. Now overseeing Australia's difficult

engagement in Afghanistan, Mr

Fitzgibbon will provide an

update on the strategic

environment as he approach s

the delivery of a new Defence

White Paper. From the National

Press Club in Canberra,

Fitzgibbon fit.

- Joel Fitzgibbon.

Ladies and gentlemen,

welcome to the National Press

Club and today's National

Australia Bank address. It's a

great pleasure to welcome Joel

Fitzgibbon in his role as

minister for defence. Joel

Fitzgibbon had the mixed

fortune of being elected to

wasn't a Parliament first in 1996, which

wasn't a great year for the

Labor Party, but it started a

very lock ed --

towards the change of long education and program

government last year, which I'm

sure he looks back on with

fondness now but prefers the

alternative, and since he has

been minister, he has made some

waves of greater and lesser

shape about Defence policy and

the some of our involvements around

the world which I'm sure he

will elaborate on today. Please

Fitzgibbon. (APPLAUSE) welcome Joel

I joked to Ken that that

long and noisy pause just

before we go on camera reminds

me of the ad breaks in the American Football. But thanks,

Ken, for that kind

introduction, on this, my debut at the National Press Club.

at the National Press Club. As

you rightly pointed out, it was

a long time coming. The

tardiness is not one of my own

making. It was hardly voluntary

but it's good to be finally

here. When Kevin Rudd back in

December 2006 invited me to become Labor's Defence

spokesman, I had an immediate

sense of what I wanted to

achieve in this

achieve in this very, very important area of

responsibility. First, I wanted

to ensure that Australia was

ready for the strategic

challenges of the 21st century.

Second, I was determined to

ensure that Defence and national security policy did

not prove to be the electoral

albatross for the new Labor

team that it had sometimes

team that it had sometimes

proven to be in the past. Too

many Australians were depending

on a Labor victory for new

directions in health and in

education and infrastructure,

and in particular, in workplace

relations. Indeed, I wanted to

re-establish Labor as the

natural Defence party. When you

think about it, we've got a

proud heritage in that area of

proud heritage in that area of

public policy. Andrew Fisher's

Defence reforms which in part

delivered him the 1914

election, an election most

remembered for his to the last

man and last shilling speech.

Then there was of course John Curtin's strong leadership in

the darkest days of the Second

World War. Of course, it was

Labor that gave birth to the US

Labor that gave birth to the US

a lie yayness surely our most

important Defence relationship.

And in my experience, military

historians and strategic

thinkers more often than not

cite the names Beazley and Ray

when they're considering the

most successful Defence

Ministers of the modern era. I

knew instinctively that putting

Labor on track to achieving

these goals would require me

these goals would require me to

do initially at least not much

more than pursue intelligent,

sound Defence policy. Including

a commitment to the US alliance

and all the reciprocal

expectations which go with it,

an increase in our investment

in Defence, not a decrease,

decision-making based on the

national interest, rather than

national interest, rather than

central interests, a deliberate

and cautious approach to where

and when overseas operations

are justified, and support for

our men and women in uniform,

surely our most highly

respected Australians,

certainly somewhat higher in

the pecking order than we politicians. It all seemed

pretty simple , really, and in

many respects it has been. Of course, our

course, our political opponents

ran a little bit of

interference along the way.

Some of it was quite overt,

like resolutions and Dorothy

Dixers in the House of

Representatives designed to

imply that Labor was not a

party committed to the US

alliance. Or we were a party

susceptible to a cut and run

approach when the going gets tough. Other

tough. Other attacks from the

then government were more

covert. Like constant and

strategically placed rumours of

Labor's hidden plans to cut

expenditure, to cancel planned

capability projects, sell

operational Defence land,

reduce Defence housing support,

reduce the deployment allowance

and of course abolish the

cadets and abolish the two

proposed new

proposed new army battalions.

Most days I seem to spend more

time putting out Tory-lit

bushfires than I did on any

more productive endeavour. My

numerous base visit, media

interviews, speeches and

opinion pieces were by

necessity partly about

neutralising the impacts of the

rumour mill of the born-to-rule

of the but just holding our

ground against a

ground against a tough,

ruthless and experienced

government was never going to

be enough. A counter insurgency

campaign would be important as

well. Hitting the coalition's national security and

management credentials.

Highlighting, for example,

their capability cost blow-outs

and overruns. Their

stubbornness on Iraq, which

inevitably led them to some

illogical positions. And of

illogical positions. And of

course, their failure to

demonstrate that force structure --

forward structure and

capability planning remained a

function of well thought out

assessments of our strategic

outlike. Meanwhile,

importantly, we made some key

and firm election commitments,

to a new Defence White Paper,

growth in Defence expenditure,

an air combat capability review

and an

and an independent review of

the Defence budget. All of

which and more we've either

delivered or are very well

advanceed in delivering. Today

indeed I can announce that Mr

George Pappas will conduct the

Defence budget audit. Many of

you in this room will know

George. He's a former senior

Vice-President of Boston

Consulting Group and has more than 30 years' experience,

than 30 years' experience, including at the international

level, in management

consulting. His independent

audit will be a key tool in our

efforts to put the

dysfunctional Defence budget

we've inherited back on track.

The White Paper will go beyond

the promise of reconnecting

strategic assessments with

forward structure and

capability planning. Its companion

companion reviews will reassess

the size and composition of our

civilian work force, force

disposition, the supply and

sustainment of deployed ADF

element, Defence's information

technology needs and

importantly the requirements of

Defence industry and science and technology more generally.

In implementing all these initiatives and

initiatives and more I'm

fortunate to have a great team

behind me. Warren Snowdon, Mike

Kelly and Greg Combet are all

making meaningful and indeed

excellent contribution to the

Defence reform project. Along

with our budget review and

savings initiative, no corner

of Defence will escape the

microscope of our drive for

greater efficiencies and

greater efficiencies and

effectiveness. Defence will

need 3% real growth and funding

and all our reinvested savings

to do all the things we need it

to do over the course of the

next decade and beyond,

particularly given the

uncertain strategic circumstances we face. Making

the challenge more difficult

are the enormous Defence budget

black holes we've inherited. These shortfalls in the

provision of money for the

sustainability costs associated

with capability and things like

wage increases, just to name a

couple. And then there's the

big capability mistakes like

Seasprite helicopter and many

others which not only take up

more than my time than is

necessary, but often provide

just about a full-time job for

just about a full-time job for

Greg Combet. These inherited problems help to explain why

I've set myself the goal of

saving $1 billion out of

Defence over the course of the

next 10 years. That's $10

billion which will be

reinvested in Defence, shifted

to higher priorities - not cut

to higher priorities - not cut

from Defence, reinvested in

Defence. Not only will we spend

more money on Defence each

other than at any other point

in time in the history of

Federation, we will spend it

more effectively and efficiently. I'm determined

that every dollar spent in

Defence will be a dollar well

spent. Our national security

demands no less, and certainly,

our troops demand no less. I

want to ensure that they have

want to ensure that they have

all the capability, training and protection they need to

ensure that they can do their

job as effectively, as

efficiently and as safely as is

possible. And we are determined

to avoid the capability

mistakes of the previous

government. While working to repair the nightmare projects

we've inherited, we are also

reviewing Defence procurement

and Greg and I have engaged the

highly regarded and

highly regarded and respected

and experienced David Mortimer

to head that project. Our three service chiefs have been

charged with making our people

and recruitment challenges a

top priority. There is no doubt

that our people and skills

shortage remains the single biggest challenge facing

Defence over the course of the

next decade and beyond. That's

why Warren Snowdon and I have

been so focused on raising the

been so focused on raising the

participation rates of women,

of Indigenous Australians, and Australians from non-English-speaking backgrounds. We are determined

to make better progress on our

modest gains in that area

already, and without their

participation, we will not

reach our goals. Amongst many

other things, including the

development of the Asia Pacific

centre for civil military

cooperation, Mike Kelly is busy

cooperation, Mike Kelly is busy

reviewing the cadets - a key

driver for recruitment success.

What a great thing it is to

have such a distinguished

former colonel in Mike Kelly as

part of our Defence team here

in Canberra. But our single

biggest project remains the

White Paper. Attempting to

predict our strategic

environment 20 years in advance

is a pretty tough task. So

is a pretty tough task. So too

will be owning questions like

what is the likely role of

force in the future international system? What is

that system going to look like,

say, in 2030, when a number of

emerging powers will have

attained considerably more economic, strategic and raw

military power than they

currently have or have had in

the past. What will the emerging multipolar

emerging multipolar world look

like? Will the era of major

state-on-state conflict in the international system have

largely come to an end?

Superseded by an era of

interest rate strife and

conflict as well as threats

from so-called non-state actors

such as terrorists and

insurgent groups? What recent

threats will we face in the

emerging strategic environment?

Will changes in the planet's climate

climate and environment create

new sources of tension and

conflict? What role should our

armed force, which are largely

gear and trained for war, play

in that future as distinct from

civilian agencies? The White

Paper development process is

well under way. The CDF,

secretary Warner, Mike Pizulo

and his team and indeed my

ministerial advisory team, many

of whom are here today, have

all been working overtime in

helping shape the paper's

direction. Also busy is my

consultation led by Stephen

Loosely. He and his team have

been travelling the width and

breadth of the country,

including a very told Tasmania

last night, providing all

Australians with an opportunity

to participate in the

discussion and if it is their want to make

want to make a contribution,

their own contribution to the White Paper development pro session. It's very important.

The White Paper is an overdue

initiative. The inexplicable

failure of the former

government to review our

strategic outlook has cause ed

drift and a disconnects between

strategic guidance and forward

structure planning. Worse I strongly suspect this suited the former Prime Minister. It

allowed him to operate on

allowed him to operate on political instinct without the

inconvenience of any accepted

framework which might have

spoiled his political agenda.

As most of you here know, the

White Paper John Howard and

Brendan Nelson were working

from was developed in the late

1990s, and delivered in the

year 2000, around eight years

ago. The world has changed so

much since then. September 11

and subsequent terror events in

Bali and Jakarta, Madrid,

London. Of course the wars in

Iraq and Afghanistan. The

emerging risk of weapons of

mass destruction falling into

the hands of non-state actors.

Advances in space and cyber

warfare technologies. The

threat of nuclear capability in

the hands of states of concern

like Iran. And of course, huge

shifts in the global

distribution of power ,

including the rise and rise of

China, and of course the

emergence of India. The new

White Paper will take these developments into account and

deliver options to help

government make fully informed

and cost effective decisions

about the military capabilities

we need to defend Australia and

its interests out to the year

2030 and beyond. It will align

Defence strategic guidance,

forward structure and

capability priority, and

resource strategies, by taking

the most comprehensive view yet

of the Defence enterprise. The

White Paper will incorporate a

thorough forward structure

review, drawing on a range of

policy and strategic analysis,

to assess the forward structure

and capability Australia needs

out to 2030. The review will

identify likely tasks for the Australian Defence Force,

determine the joint

capabilities needed to

undertake these tasks, and

develop appropriate forward structure and capability

options to deliver these joint

capabilities. The forward

structure review will develop

options for government for a

capable, sustainable joint

force which leverages the whole Defence establishment. While

today I have no intention of

pre-empting the outcomes of the

White Paper, I think there are

some questions I can respond to

with a degree of certainty.

First, Australia's top priority

will remain the defence of the

continent, and our immediate

strategic interests, without

the assistance of other nation

states. Second, it will be

necessary to maintain the

capability to take a lead role

in stabilisation efforts in our

immediate region. Third, we'll

also need to maintain the

capacity to participate in

coalition efforts in the

broader Asia Pacific region and

of course beyond in places like

Afghanistan. This calls for a

balanced force and will pose

some difficult capability and

force structure decisions given

our relative size and limited

budget. The Asia Pacific

represents both challenges and opportunities both for

Australia and our friends in

the United States. The region

is home to the two most

important powers of the next 50

years - China and India.

They're unquenchable thirst for

our commodities including oil,

gas, coal and iron ore has

provided Australia with a long period of sustained economic

growth. But the reality is that

the coming decades, their

economic growth and military

capability will shape both the

region and the globe. Managing

this gradual shift in global

economic and strategic power to

the Asia Pacific will be the great challenge of the first

half of this century. That is

why Prime Minister Rudd has

begun the discussion about the

future of our regional

architecture. One which, unlike

any other forum in existence,

includes all the relevant major

powers in the region -

Australia, the US, China, India

and Japan. Regional dialogue

which nurtures confidence and

trust in one another will be

critical in managing changes in

the power balance both within

and outside the region. As we

attempt to look out 30 years

and beyond, miscalculation in

the Taiwan straits or on the

Korean Peninsula may not be the

only potential threats. As the

region continues to grow, we

could face energy resource

challenges as nation states

seek to meet the needs and

expectations of their growing

populous. Water may become more

precious, as populations grow,

and pollutions put pressure on

our fresh-water supplies.

Climate change could force

large migrations of people and

of course, the threat posed by

extreme Islamism remains a

very, very real one. That takes

me to our biggest immediate

challenge, that is, of course,

the war in Afghanistan. Last

time I attended the National

Press Club, it was to listen to

an address given by my friend

and counterpart the right

honourable Des Browne. He focused his whole speech on

Afghanistan and I think all of

you who were here would agree

it was a very, very significant contribution. Certainly,

Afghanistan remains an

important project for

Australia. That's why I found

my engagement with NATO and -

my early engagement with NATO,

not suggestsing my engagement

is not frustrating now, but

it's certainly why I found my

early engagement with NATO so

frustrating. The lack of a

coherent all of country

whole-of-government approach to

Afghanistan really did shock

me. So too did the

underwhelming performance of

some of our European partners .

So did the disjointed nature of

the chains of command. But what

shocked me most of all was the extent to which Australia had

been excluded from the planning

processes. Our troops and our

commitment and our sacrifices

were welcome, but it seemed our

input into strategy were not. input into strategy were not.

Our government was asked to

make assessments about the risk

of the mission and the

likelihood of success or otherwise without having any

access to the strategic

documents. I'm pleased to say

this is no longer the case and

I'm also determined to say this

will never again the case

whileever I have an opportunity

to influence those events. Nor

will I allow Australia's

contribution to overseas

deployments to be ever taken

for granted. Australia's

contribution in Afghanistan is

of course a significant one. We

are the ninth largest

contributor overall in the

largest single --

and the largest single non-NATO

contributor. Our loss of life

has been thankfully, in

relative terms, been low. But

six lives is six lives far too

many and we must remember them

and their sacrifices. So how is

the war in Afghanistan going?

My short and candid is:

frustrate ingly slowly. You may

have noticed I never talking

about winning in Afghanistan. I

say you win or you lose

state-on-state conflicts. You

win or you lose clearly

defined civil wars but you do

not win or lose counter

insurgency campaigns. I like

the way Secretary Gates put it

when I was in the US only a couple of weeks ago. He said

"We will not kill and capture

our way to victory in

Afghanistan." I think that's a

very succinct way of putting

it. You meet with success in

campaigns like that being fought in Afghanistan when

you've convinced the

overwhelming majority that life

under the democratic model

we're offering and the social

and economic model we're

offering is better than the

alternative being offered by

the insurgents or any other

group. Success comes in campaigns like Afghanistan

when, but for most radical,

that is, those pursuing an

extreme minority view, when

everyone is benefitting from

the stable society that is

moving forward to relative

prosperity. I came home from

Washington two weeks ago

feeling just a little bit more

optimistic about the prospects

of winning the commitment of

ordinary Afghans than I was

when I left Australia. During

the few days I spent in the US

capital I was reassured that

the current administration

remains not only committed to

the project but determined to

do more. I also watched on as

Barack Obama and John McCain

had a competition, if you like,

to determine who's going to

make the greater troop

commitment. This gives us a

reassurance that between now

and January and no matter who

wins the US election in

November, we will have an

administration that not only remains committed to

Afghanistan, but is determined

to do much more. Now, of

course, I would've preferred

that this burden have been

spread more broadly across the

NATO partnerships and I will

continue to push for that to be

the case, but for the time

being at least, it seems it's

not going to be the case, and

we certainly welcome the

additional US commitment. My

second grounds for greater

optimism is the emerging

recognition that not only do we

need to do more or be faster or

increase the pace of building the the abilities of the Afghan

national army, but we also need

a bigger Afghan national army.

I think it's fair to say that

the target set at the Bucharest

summit earlier this year, which

was around 80,000, was likely -

is likely to prove to be too

modest. This will of course

require more money, and lots of

it. Maybe the burden of it. Maybe the burden of that

expense should fall to those

NATO nations not to do more in

terms of troop numbers. If

they're not able to spend

troops, maybe it's appropriate

for us as a partnership to

expect them to stump up some of

the money to pay for the

additional capacity-building in

the Afghan national army and

indeed across the Afghan

national security forces more

generally. The third soushs of generally. The third soushs of

optimism came from briefings I

received on the work of the UN

Special Envoy Kayada. I'm told

his early work is proving to be

creative and innovative and I've had a reassurance that

there is an intention that his

work will go beyond Kabul into

the provinces, including of

course into Oruszgan, where we

operate so effectively. The

fourth source of optimism came from proposals to unify from proposals to unify the

chain of command. Hitherto

divided between those operating

under ISAF and those operating

under Operation Enduring

Freedom. The fifth source of

optimism came from what I would

describe as a new and deeper

recognition that success will

not come in Afghanistan without

a much greater effort a much greater effort in

Pakistan. The international

community cannot sit back and

allow Pakistan to become the

new breeding ground for

al-Qaeda and JI. It appears

likely that as the surge meets

with success in Baghdad, the

jihadists are making their way

into the tribal areas in

Pakistan's north west. From

there, of course, they can make

their way easily through the

their way easily through the

porous borders and on to

Afghanistan. The largely

lawless federally administered

tribal areas are home to around

3.5 million people. Amazingly,

around 3% of those only live in

established townships. Among

them, of course, mix countless

Afghan refugees. The neighbouring North West Frontier Province Frontier Province is home to

the equivalent of the

Australian population, the

majority, of course, being

Pustans. The Fatah, the

federally administered tribal

areas, also provides a trade

route which takes Afghanistan's

drugs to world market and funds

insurgency campaigns in

Afghanistan and terror events

around the globe. The international community international community must

act on these issues in Pakistan

with new urgency. Economic aid

to the Fatah will need to

increase substantially.

Education levels must rise.

Economic and social

infrastructure must be

established with new urgency. Diplomatic efforts must focus

on securing an agreed

settlement by Afghanistan and

Pakistan over the dispute t Pakistan over the dispute t

Duran line, the border imposed

last century by the previous

colonial administration, a

border which physically divides

the Pushtan people, and we must

arm the Pakistani army with the

skills an means to conduct counter insurgency campaigns

and civil operations. It's not

as if Pakistan hasn't already

invested heavily in the stabilisation of stabilisation of those tribal

areas, with more than 1400 of

their military killed in action

and many, many more wounded.

Now, I'm not suggesting for a

moment any of this is easy. It

certainly is not. But the cost

of not trying is too high to

contemplate. Failure in

Afghanistan, humanitarian

disaster in the north west of

Pakistan, and of course, a

boost for Islamic extremism,

including those who perpetrate

acts of terror under the names

of JI, including in our own

immediate region. Australia has

done great work in Afghanistan.

We are extending our influence,

clearing the insurgents and

we're building schools and

hospitals and bridges and

roads. Again, our contribution

there has not been without cost. And cost. And the Australian

Government will continue to do

all it can to secure faster and

greater progress. Just as we're

determined to ensure that all

Australians can feel reassured

that they and their interests

are secured by both informed

judgments about where the

political strategic threats to

our nation are likely to emerge

and appropriate and appropriate planning

responses. Along with our

budget, management and

capability reforms, the coming

White Paper and its conclusions

on force structure plans and

our capability needs should

provide the Australian people

with the confidence in the

ability of their government to

maintain our national security

and to protect our interests.

Now that would be a Labor Government, a Rudd Labor Government, I'm proud Government, I'm proud to be a

member of. I look forward to

taking your very friendly

questions.

(LAUGHTER) (APPLAUSE) Thank you, minister. It is

in fact time for questions and

they start today with Maria

Hawthorn. I'm from Australian associated press.

associated press. The retired

diplomat Bruce Haig was not very complimentary of you this

week in an opinion piece he

wrote for ABC on-line. He was

critical of the fact that

you've expressed some pessimism

about whether Afghanistan can

be done; he said that the

decision or that your statement

that the US should be dealing

with the diplomacy to convince

Pakistan to crack down on Pakistan to crack down on

terrorists was "Craven" and he ended by suggesting that you

should be replaced by your

Parliamentary Secretary Greg

Combet. Given that Mr Combet

sits right behind you in

Parliament, do you feel him

breathing down your neck? I

was sure this was going to be a

friendly question! If I was run

over by a bus over by a bus tomorrow, Greg

Combet would do an excellent

job. He is doing an excellent

job in the role he currently

fills. Bruce Haig has the

luxury of not being accountable

to anyone. It's easy for him to

criticise what I have to say on

the future of Afghanistan. I

haven't seen the arm and I

don't fully comprehend what he

was saying but I

was saying but I have said

regularly that better progress

will require a mix of initiative, better marrying of

the military and non-military

effort, building capacity

within the ANA, a better

strategy on counter narcotics,

for example, more re construction efforts, better

progress in the very serious

issue we have in issue we have in Pakistan. Now,

again, he can have his view.

But the US is going to continue

to play the important lead role

in Afghanistan, and the reality

is if we're to make better

progress' they'll have to step

up to the mark in the absence

of the willingness of those in

Europe to do more. I'm very

pleased while in Washington I

was reassured that the progress

in Iraq is

in Iraq is good progress, and

to be reassured that as the US further draws down in Iraq, they will be sending more

troops to Afghanistan. I think

that's key to our beter

progress there. Given Labor's

rhetoric on the importance of

staying engaged in Afghanistan,

why has it been so reluctant to

commit regular infantry forces to a to a combat role there, relying

instead on the Special Forces?

And doesn't this reinforce Jim

Nolan's recent comments that

we're excessively risk averse,

despite all the tough talk at

NATO conferences? Are you a

swimmer or a non-swimmer? I

made the point our contribution

in Afghanistan is a very

significant one, more than significant one, more than

1,000 troops a large number of

them Special Forces. About 300

as compared to 400 by the way

in the RTO. So I'm not sure

whether criticisms of the

balance are necessarily

justified. In terms of the mix,

like any good minister, like

any good government, we'll

always be guided by our key

military adviser on these

matters. He is with us today.

Angus Houston. I think the community wants to

community wants to really gets

concerned when politicians

start making decisions about

the nature of the deployment.

Why would we do more? We are

the largest non-NATO contributor. We're not part of

NATO. This is is a NATO

mission. I think we're already

punching above our weight.

We're already doing more than

our share and I've often made

the point we have no intention

of doing more while so of doing more while so many

European nations remain

undercommited. There is another

important point here as well.

We are a country of six

battalions. And in recent

years, we've had roughly half

of our infantry and cavalry

somehow commitmented to

employments. We simply don't

and I think the US understands

this very well, we don't have

the capacity to do more in

Afghanistan if we wanted to.

Now, sure, with Now, sure, with the Overwatch

Battle Group coming home from

Iraq, that frees up some

capacity but it only restores

the sort of capacity we need to

be able to immediately respond

to contingencies which might

emerge in our own region. So

our commitment is a strong one.

We remain committed to the

project. I won't get into a

debate today about the comments

you cited. I could argue it's

very much part of the White very much part of the White

Paper process. We'll just await

those outcomes. I'm from News

Limited. I was interested in

your answer there, and I just

wonder how long you can

continue to blame NATO or wait

for NATO to make a move. I

mean, we have an armoured

capability in this country, we

have a lot of other

capabilities that are not being

used. Why don't we commit to a surge in Afghanistan when surge in Afghanistan when the

Americans commit to a surge in

Afghanistan?, as a good ally

might? And secondly, how can we

judge what's happening there,

when we have, really, limited

information and are you happy

with the information flow and

the way your department and

your military deals with public

information which in the recent

case of the wounded signaller,

certainly left a lot to be

desired. First of all I'd say, what more

what more could we hope to

achieve by a greater military

investment in Afghanistan?

We're doing very good work in

Oruszgan. We're spreading our

influence. Clearly - we're put

to put in a measure which will

help build the Afghan national

army. We're building all the

things I spoke about any

speech. But as good as the the

work is we're doing there, work is we're doing there,

another company or more in

Oruszgan Province is not going

to make any real difference to

the overall rate of success in

Afghanistan. So this is a

pretty commonsense approach. We

are more than 1,000, punching

above our weight. Why would we

do more in order to allow NATO

projects to do less? It makes

no sense to me. On journos in no sense to me. On journos in

areas of operation, I have a

pretty open mind on this issue.

I do note or am I advised that

the access seems to be greater

for journalists from the UK or

the United States of America.

But it worries me . We have

very limited capacity. I mean,

they have thousands in theatre.

We have a thousand. The

resources it takes to protect

journalists who might want to go outside the

go outside the wire are

significant resources.

Resources needed to ensure that

our people do their work well and they are properly

protected. So I can see both

sides of the debate. I can

understand why we want

transparency, you want journos

out there beyond the wire

reporting on day-to-day

activities but my focus has to be on

be on the success of the

mission and the safety of our

people. I can't allow resources

to be freed up to protect

journos outside the wire, when

those resources might be

elsewhere. But I will keep an open mind on T What about the

quality of information you're

getting this end? I have full

confidence in the quality of

the information you're getting

from the military. I from the military. I get the

confidential briefings and I

see the information you receive

and at all times I see it as

being absolutely accurate. I'm

from the Canberra Times. You

referred to the situation in

Pakistan, across the border from Afghanistan. And you

referred to the need to arm the

Pakistani military to deal

better with counter insurgency

operations. What do you think the international community in Australia could be doing in

that regard? Is there a role for

for us in terms of military

training or other assistance to

Pakistan? Of course, any

assistance we could give in

Pakistan have to only come at

the invitation of the Pakistan

government. That's the first

point. I think it's apparent to

all who watch these things

closely that despite their best

efforts and their heavy losses

in the north west region of the in the north west region of the country, they're making only

very limited headway in dealing

with the lawlessness of that

particular region. Now, a

number of countries, including

Australia, have great expertise

in counter insurgency work, and

there may be an opportunity as

an international community to

provide some advice and

training in counter insurgency

work. I'm not talking about the sort sort - a deployment which requires force protection,

sending people into the tribal

areas. I'm - I may only be

talking about mill ree advisers

in Liz lamb bad or something

to that effect. --

Islamabad. But these things

we're prepared to talk about with the Pakistan government. I'd like to think they'd see merit in the international

community, both through

dialogue and other more

tangible action, assisting them in

in that very significant

challenge they have in those

tribal areas. Minister, you

have of course inherited many

of the policies and decisions

of your predecessor in the

previous government. Your

predecessor now the Leader of

the Opposition. Some of those

decisions have been questioned,

not only generally but by your

own officials. I refer to own officials. I refer to the

purchase of the probably

obsolete F/A-18, the retirement

of the best aircraft we've ever

had, the F-111, and the

purchase of the Joint Strike Fighter. Probably wonderful in

a dogfight but of course, there

will never be another dogfight

in the air wars in future.

Despite the cost of cancelling

such contracts do you think it

might be cheaper to do might be cheaper to do that

rather than spend vast amounts

of taxpayers' money on aircraft

that are unsuitable and get

something that are? You're

certainly right, John. It's

something we've inherited from

the former government. One of

many projects we've inherited

that have proved to be a

challenge for the new

government. Look, air combat

capability at the moment is

still subject to the second part of the air combat part of the air combat capability review. It becomes part of the White Paper

process. I'm limited in what I

can say until we've gone

through those process, but the

former government made a mess

of this they failed to plan for

our future. Air combat

capability or our superiority

in air combat capability is the

key to the defence of this

nation. And rather than have long-term planning long-term planning they made ad

hoc decision on the run and the

debacle over the way the Superhornet thing was handled

is well known by the Australian

community. We've inherited

this. What were we to do with

it? First of all they made this

sudden decision to turn off the

F-111, without proper planning,

giving themselves room to think

about what they're going to do

to replace it. Now, by the time

we came to government you could not turn not turn that back on because

it was already in the

decommissioning pro session.

People have moved on. Services

and upgrades had no longer

proceeded etc. --

process. Impossible to turn it

it back on. Now, it turns out the government, because of the

way they did this, and their

need to fill the gap by 2010,

left themselves with only one

option in aircraft and that was option in aircraft and that was

the Superhornet. It was the

only aircraft in the world capable of being delivered in

the time frame the former

government had created for

itself. We had to make a

decision. You keep the

Superhornet or don't you? Well,

in the end, particularly given

we were facing very heavy compensation bills if we

reneged on the contract, we

decided that it was best to

keep the Superhornet. I should

say very importantly that I'm convinced that the Superhornet is more than capable of is more than capable of doing

what we'll need it to do over

the course of the next decade

or so it's a good aircraft. I

have no issue with it. It's not

fifth generation but it's a

good aircraft. Looking ahead -

we have a big decision coming, whether or not to continue to

commit to the Joint Strike

Fighter. This is the single biggest Defence investment the

Australian taxpayer will ever

make of up to $16 billion. And

I won't rush into signing on I won't rush into signing on

the dotted line. Again it's

subject to our air combat

capability review. Nick Minchin

for some reason wants me to

race in and sign about a year

before I have to, before I have

reassurances it's in their

ability to deliver the

capabilities and on cost and

schedule, I won't. I will keep

Lockheed Martin guessing. I

continue to talk to people

about other alternatives,

although I said publicly last although I said publicly last

week there is only one fifth generation aircraft in the

world on the market at moment

or likely to be on the market

in the next little while, other

than the JSF and that's the F/22. Now, there is a debate

now emerging in the United

States about the long-term

sustainability of the Raptor,

the F/22, not only of course

are the capital costs very

high, but now the sustainment

costs are growing exponentially. exponentially. So I think you

can pretty much say now that

unless the new administration

surprises us, that the F/22

might not even be an option for

Australia, even if we came to

the conclusion it was the right

air xwrast for

Australia. Minister, just sort

of forward from that question,

I'm just wondering if the legacy Hornets legacy Hornets in better nick

than we actually thought,

whether you can provide any

insight on that. And I just

wondered if you could expand on

the audit you're getting George

Pappas to do. What specific

concerns do you have the

Defence duth buth that have

prompted you to under take it?

I did read a very good article

on the future of the Classic

Hornets in the 'Australian Financial Review' this morning. (LAUGHTER) Do morning. (LAUGHTER) Do you get

another question?! (LAUGHTER) I've been in Cabinet all

morning, so I haven't had an

opportunity to consult with the

CDF to see whether there was

any truth in that story. I'm

sure there was, given you wrote

T I know you're always very

well informed. Look, I just

don't have the answer to that.

Classic Hornet has been a great

air xwrast for Australia, and will will --

aircraft for Australia and

we'll continue to manage our

air combat capability in the

way that delivers the capacity

that we need and delivers value

for the taxpayers. On the

independent audit, I think it's

crucial to us getting the

Defence budget back in ordered

and back on track. Obviously

it's about efficient allocation

of resource. It's about spending money more efficiently

and effectively, about cutting and effectively, about cutting

waste and mismanagement. We'll

look at better ways of budget

planning, basically, and it's

no more complex than that and

having an independent expert

looking in, I think, is an

appropriate way of going about

that process. I'm from the

'Age'. You discussed Pakistan extensively. The tribal areas

of Pakistan as you pointed of Pakistan as you pointed out

are vast and virtually

impenetrable. The Pakistanis

have lost something like 14

troops as you said, trying to

control the area. Do you think

there is any possibility that

they could bring that region

under control, stop the tal

band and al-Qaeda using the

area? And Barack Obama said

recently in a media interview that he would consider the situation serious enough situation serious enough to

consider cross-border raids to

take out groups or training

grounds for Taliban or

al-Qaeda. Is that something

that you see as likely or would

agree with? Certainly, I like

to think success in those north

west provinces is within our

scope. Of course, you've got to

be hopeful about that. As I

said, we can't hope for better progress in progress in Afghanistan if we

don't meet with greater success

in the Fatah and other regions.

So we've got to try hard, and

we need to sit down with the

Pakistani government and talk

to them about how we can help.

I'm confident they'd be open to dialogue about how best we can

help at their invitation, of

kourps. Remembering they are

trying hard and they've made

some serious sacrifices

themselves. Look, I think themselves. Look, I think any

talk of any sort of intervengs

which sits outside Pakistani

invitation is just too

hypothetical, and too early to

even contemplate. We have to

focus on the diplomatic

efforts, we have to focus on

working with Pakistan and work

on helping them from

within. Have you begun talking

to Pakistan? Haven't had any

formal talks with Pakistan, no. Do you plan

no. Do you plan to Yes. Mark

Kenny from the Adelaide

'Advertiser'. I wonder if I

could take to you a more

political question. You've

spoken a lot about strategic

plans. It's a very important

aspect obviously of your

portfolio. You of course were

strategically a planner for the

seat of Latham and then played

a key role as a key role as a strategic plan

er in thes a cent of Kevin

Rudd. I wonder if you could

comment on which of those two plans worked out

best?! (LAUGHTER) Well, Mark,

if my memory serves me

correctly, we lost the 2004

election and won the 2007

election. Glenn Milne from News

Limited, Sunday publications,

and the 'Australian'. This one and the 'Australian'. This one

is sure to be friendly,

Glenn. Sure but I can't top

that last question I have to

say! You mentioned in your

speech that you want more

dollars from NATO participants

in Afghanistan who don't commit

more troops. What will you do

to progress that? I think it's

around important point. I mean,

while I've been critical of

some European nations in some European nations in particular, I do also accept

that they face significant

challenges and hurdles

themselves. Some of them

constitutional. One of the big

challenges in all of this is

maintaining the support of your local constituent see. I have

nothing but admiration for the

Canadians for example who've

lost around 80 people, are in

minority government but are

still pushing forward and doing

more than their share and you

could probably put the Dutch in could probably put the Dutch in

that category as well. So I'm

just making the point that if

additional dollars are needed

and European nations in

particular aren't able to do

more on the military front, as

partners to the project, it

makes sense that they should

contribute in some other way

and I think we need to start

talking about whether those

financial commitments should be

forthcoming. I think that

progress is very slow. I talked about all the about all the things we need to

do to improve progress but I

think without money, without

real capacity-building, not

only in the ANA but on the

economic front, progress will

remain slow for a long, long time. Trevor Thomas from Australian Defence

Business. This will be too

technical! Probably! I hope you

see this as a friendly question

because it relates to an issue

of principle and the issue of principle is the duty of principle is the duty of care

and the performance standard

for aeromedical evacuation.

Know, I'd ask you - and as I understand it, the NATO

standard is within two hours of

the incident to have a wounded

soldier evacuated and on the

table. But I'd ask you the

principle of when an incident

occurs less than half an hour's

flying time from our major base at

at Tarin Kowt, do you believe

that the NATO performance

standard is adequate in terms

of our duty of care to our

soldiers in and if you don't,

are you willing to commit that

at the first opportunity when

we have a couple of MRH-90

helicopters available to the

Australian Defence Force, and

within the force cap that you

have imposed, that you'd look

to sustaining our to sustaining our own aeromedical evacuation

capability from Tarin Kowt? I

know you're asking me a

question about principle but I

will say I want to be a bit

careful because the recent

incident is obviously still

under investigation, but of

course, I want to ensure that

we have a process in the system

in place that gets our wounded

soldiers to hospital or to

medical attention as medical attention as quickly as

is possible. And I'm currently

in dialogue with the CDF on

that question and will continue to work through those issues.

The issue is not as simple as

it seems as it s - as is often

the case that occurs within

areas of operation but we'll

keep working away at that and

making sure we get it right.

Would we be prepared to commit our own our own helicopters? I think the short answer to that,

without ever saying never, is

that we don't play a lead role

in Oruszgan. I made the point

earlier we have a significant

contribution there. It's not

just our troops, we have the

rotary wing and the Chinooks

and other elements as well. We

don't want to get ourselves

into a situation where people

start feeling comfortable with us having a lead role us having a lead role in

Oruszgan and the more we build

capacity beyond the military

capacity in infrastructure

terms, medivac helicopters and

things, surely we're getting

ourselves deeper and deeper

into the obligation. It's well

known the Dutch will probably

leave Oruszgan in about August

2010. I'm very, very confident

now that the US, with these

commitments, traditional troop

numbers, will take up that lead

role in in Oruszgan role in in Oruszgan province. I

don't see any justification for

us starting to develop more

infrastructure in Oruszgan in

those terms when l really we

should be looking to NATO,

which of course has the lead

and and the Dutch in particular

in Oruszgan, to do those things

that they're expected to do. As

the lead nations in those

activities. A final question today from Michael Brissenden. Michael Brissenden Brissenden. Michael Brissenden from the ABC, 7.30 Report.

There was a story written on

the weekend by a colleague of

mine sitting at the table here

about you taking a friend of

yours on pan overseas mission.

Firstly, I mean, do you regret

that? It wasn't a par --

particularly good look. A

second question about the role

of Pakistan. I mean, clearly

any discussion about

Afghanistan has to involve

Pakistan. Are you confident that that that relationship has been

dealt with effectively by the

US? When you were in the US,

did you pick up any indication

that there would be any change

in the way that the US was

going to relate to Pakistan

regarding the operations in

Afghanistan? Well, I think the

important anything as I said in

my address is there seems to be

new and renewed focus in the US on Pakistan and on Pakistan and a recognition

that more needs to be done,

that includes more on the diplomatic front, more

dialogue, and I'm sure that

will be forthcoming. Why has

that obvious need been not -

not received the focus it

deserves in the past? Simply

because there has been such a

high focus on Iraq. They're

starting to turn their focus to

what I would call the main game

and I'm confident that will be

the case. Look, on this trip to

Afghanistan, just let me go through

through a couple of points.

Professor Scott Holmes is a

highly regarded part-time

member of my staff. He has a CV

that I could probably use as a

platform to raise my height a

little bit when I stand up next

to Angus Houston at various

press conferences. He makes a

significant contribution to my

policy development, he policy development, he does

good work in the Hunter, well

beyond what he is paid to do.

When he approached me about the

idea of going to Turkey for

Anzac Day, I said, well, I will

find out whether it's kosher,

if you fully fund your trip,

whether that's an appropriate

thing to do. And I consulted a

range of people and agencies

and was assured that there's

nothing new in it and if he

pays his own way, that would be

fine. I was happy to have an

extra staffer along without

having to pay him or for any of

his expenses. A good deal for

me! Unfortunately on the last

night when I was in Ankara, I

got a tragic call from the ADF

informing me that Jason Marks

had been fatally wounded in

Afghanistan. Given I was going

to be going to the Middle East

to be going to the Middle East

the next day, we discussed

whether it would be appropriate

for me to call in and pay my

respects to Jason Marks and

visit his colleagues in the

hospital. I expressed over the

resource it is takes to get me

into an area of operation.

Thankfully there was a C-130

going anyway, taking equipment,

etc., into Tarin Kowt and I jumped on jumped on board. There was

absolutely no additional cost

in