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Minister for Defence launches A History of Australian Strategic Policy Since 1945

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THE HON. JOEL FITZGIBBON MP Minister for Defence

Monday, 16 March 2009 036/2009


The Minister for Defence, the Hon. Joel Fitzgibbon MP, has today launched a collection of declassified strategic defence documents that shed light on Australia’s defence and strategic policy for the period of 1946 to 1976.

“I am pleased to launch this collection of strategic documents, as they will help increase our understanding of the evolution of Australian strategic policy during an important period of Australia’s history,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

A History of Australian Strategic Policy since 1945 is a collection of primary-source strategic policy documents of the post Second World War period. It includes the texts of fifteen declassified strategic guidance documents of the Australian Defence organisation from 1946 to 1976. This is the first time that the declassified documents have been published and collated into one publication, and will provide valuable insights for scholars of Australia’s defence and strategic policy.

“To understand where we are going we need to understand where we have come from. The launch of this publication is significant given the upcoming release of the new Defence White Paper,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

“From1946 to 1976, the years covered by A History of Australian Strategic Policy since 1945, the process for developing policy was less comprehensive and inclusive than our methodology for developing the new White Paper. The new White Paper will be a vital planning document that will form the foundation of our future Defence capabilities.”

Drafted by uniformed officers and civilian public servants, the papers in A History of Australian Strategic Policy since 1945 represent the views of the Defence hierarchies of their time about the principles underlying defence policy. These principles include the circumstances under which Australian armed forces might be used, and the kinds of forces and capabilities Australia should develop.

They were all submitted to the government of the day for consideration, so they provide an insight into the interface between the government’s policy directive, and Defence’s professional advice.

The book also contains commentary and an introductory essay by Dr Stephan Frühling from the Australian National University.

“Dr Frühling’s timely and comprehensive work provides a valuable academic commentary to these historical papers,” Mr Fitzgibbon said.

Note: A History of Australian Strategic Policy since 1945 has a limited print run and is not available for purchase. It is available for download from the Defence website at:

Imagery will be available for download at

Media contacts: Jack Smith (Joel Fitzgibbon): 02 6277 7800 or 0408 116 423

Defence Media Liaison: 02 6265 3343 or 0408 498 664