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Thursday, 19 March 1987
Page: 1091

Mr BEAZLEY (Minister for De-fence) —by leave-For the information of honourable members, I present the defence of Australia policy information paper. The problem confronted by all Australian defence planners is that, while we are firmly part of the Western community of nations, our defence situation is unique and requires unique solutions. The Australian people expect that Australia should be able to defend itself. The Australian Government accepts its duty to provide Australia with defence forces able to meet that expectation. This paper sets the course for a decade or more of development of self-reliance in the defence and security of Australia.

For Australia, defence self-reliance is set firmly within the framework of our alliances and regional associations. The support they give us makes self-reliance achievable. They, in turn, will draw added support from a self-reliant Australia which will be better able to discharge its responsibilities in the vast strategic region to which we belong. Self-reliance as a goal is based on a realistic assessment of our strengths, as well as on a rigorous appraisal of our weaknesses and deficiencies. It draws upon the skilful mobilisation of Australia's resources-physical, financial and human.

The Australian Government's policy of self-reliance in defence requires both a coherent de-fence strategy, and an enhanced defence capacity. This paper defines that strategy, and details the program to increase our capacity. The policy paper covers the full range of matters before Government in the defence area. It deals with policy, strategy, force structure, industry, de-fence science, infrastructure, personnel and resources. It is not possible in a tabling statement to give adequate weight to the full breadth of issues covered. Therefore I intend to give primary weight to those areas which have attracted attention since the production of the defence review headed by Paul Dibb-the current director of the Joint Intelligence Organisation. This tabling statement focuses primarily on matters of strategy and force structure and sets them broadly within the framework of international aspects of defence policy.

The Government's policy of self-reliance requires a rigorous and specific military strategy. We need a clear conception of the way in which military forces are to be used to defend Australia, so that we can develop the capabilities we really need to do the job. The military strategy we have developed can be described as layered defence or defence in depth. This strategy dictates that we develop an Australian defence force capable of meeting any hostile force within our area of direct military interest with successive layers of forces capable of detecting, identifying and engaging any hostile approach. This strategy is, in the broadest political sense, defensive. But the strategy is not defensive in the more specifically military sense. The strategy does not mean that Australia forswears offensive military operations in defence of its territory and interests. The policy outlined in this paper gives an important role to offensive operations as exemplified by our long range strike capabilities. These long range strike capabilities include an enhanced submarine force, FA18s supplemented by in-flight refuelling, a continuing commitment to the F111 force, and the substantial strike capabilities of our P3C Orion maritime patrol aircraft.

Taken together, these forces constitute by far the strongest long range strike capability in the region. They provide us with the ability to operate against a full range of targets, not only in our area of direct military interest, but well beyond.

The capabilities we need for defence in depth are determined, among other things, by our assessments of the capabilities we may face. In particular, it is important in setting priorities for force development to distinguish as clearly as possible those threats which can arise with little or no warning from those which would take some time to develop. It is essential that we give priority to developing the capabilities we need to meet threats that could arise with little warning, ahead of those which would take longer to emerge. The Government has carefully analysed the defence capabilities within our region, including those of the Soviet Union. Two important assessments emerge. The first is that no regional power has the capability to mount a major attack on Australia. Such an attack is defined as one involving the seizure and occupation of a substantial portion of our territory. The second is that the capability to mount smaller scale-but still serious-military operations against us already exists in our region.

Our judgment that no regional country has the capability to mount a major attack on Australia is based on a rigorous assessment of the sort of military forces needed to mount such an attack, and of the military capabilities available in the region. A major attack on Australia would require a huge military effort backed by an extensive logistic system to sustain the attack. In particular, the forces required for a major assault on Australia go well beyond large scale land forces. Major maritime forces would also be needed, involving large numbers of high capability ships and aircraft. These forces do not now exist in this region and could not be rapidly or secretly developed.

I want to stress that our judgment on the likelihood of major assault is not based on an assessment of political intentions, but of military capabilities. Likewise, our assessment of the possibility of low level military action against our territory or interests is also based on the military capabilities in our region, and not on any expectation that our relations with regional countries will deteriorate to the point where they might be used. We are fortunate in sharing a region with peace-loving nations with whom we enjoy cordial relations. Retaining that relationship is an important aspect or our diplomatic effort. Nevertheless, political circumstances can alter more rapidly than those which change capabilities.

It is important to be clear what sort of conflicts fall into the category of low level contingencies. `Low level' refers to military threats less than major assault or invasion, including some very serious contingencies which would demand an urgent and substantial military response. Threats such as mining of our major ports, attacks on our off-shore territories or in our resource zone, the interception of our coastal trade, and raids on vital northern installations and infrastructure, could cause severe damage to our national interests. The extent and remoteness of our territory and maritime approaches make them difficult to protect against this sort of threat. No responsible government could leave Australia open to such attacks. We must have the ability to counter them; and, because the regional capability already exists, we must have the ability to counter them with the force-in-being.

The importance of low level contingencies poses a unique challenge to Australia's military planning. Nations in the traditional battlefields of Europe or the Middle East prepare primarily for the highest level of threat-that of invasion. Australia's force structure could not be sensibly planned on that basis. Preparation for low level threats requires unique planning and operational concepts. Nevertheless, some of the assets we retain against the remote threat of a major assault or invasion, sometime in the future, would be of considerable use in lower level operations: Our FA18s with in-flight refuelling, our submarines and our frigates with Seahawk helicopters are examples. Likewise, our surveillance capability requires much the same capacity for both high and low-level threats. The problems of distance, harsh environment, and lack of infrastructure in many of the most vulnerable areas of the country in the north and north-west place demands on the Defence Force in countering low-level threats. These demands would be just as substantial in planning and deployment terms, as distinct from resources, as countering a major assault or invasion. This is not the case in the military contingencies from which we traditionally draw lessons. The uniqueness of Australia's geography and defence position, and the unique demands of low-level threats in our circumstances, need to be clearly understood if we are to provide properly for our security.

The defence policy laid out in the paper I am tabling today gives due priority to developing the capabilities we need to handle low-level contingencies. To do this, we need flexible and long range capabilities for maritime surveillance and interdiction to deny an adversary effective use of the sea-air gap to the north; we need comprehensive capabilities in areas ignored in the recent past, such as mine countermeasures; we need a highly mobile army able to react to any incursions right across the continent; and we need ground forces able to protect military and civilian infrastructure and population in the most remote parts of the country. As I said, we need these capabilities now; we need them in the force-in-being. Again, I am not suggesting that any willingness or intention to threaten Australia in this way exists in the region. But, as I have said, proper defence planning must be based on contingencies which reflect a realistic assessment of prevailing and developing regional capabilities.

Inherent in the defence paper and in the Government's implementation of defence self- reliance is the linking of practical defence policy with our allies, and our role in the region as a military power. Australia-United States of America co-operation is important to basic elements of an effective and efficient system of Australian defence. The first essential of good defence is good intelligence. Our strict ordering of defence priorities is based ultimately on comprehensive regional intelligence. It is the possession of up-to-date intelligence on the whole of our area of primary strategic interest, and the knowledge specifically of the entire range of current or prospective regional capabilities, that provides the quantifiable basis for determining our defence priorities.

Australia has significant indigenous capabilities for regional intelligence. However, it is access to complementary United States intelligence, and particularly access to United States satellite intelligence, which Australia could not afford to duplicate, that completes our comprehensive knowledge of regional capabilities. The American relationship also makes a major contribution to the development of self-reliant capabilities for our independent defence. Many of the most important items in our defence inventory are purchased from the United States. The FA18s, FFG frigates, and F111s are examples of equipment obtained from the United States by virtue of Australia's favoured customer status. In addition, other important capabilities, such as the indigenous Jindalee over-the-horizon radar, draw on our access to United States research and experience. This access to the latest United States military technology, and our favoured status as a defence purchaser-benefits otherwise confined to the North Atlantic Treaty Organisation countries-means, effectively, that our Defence Force will retain a technological edge in regional terms for the foreseeable future.

A particular aspect of our relationship with the United States that assures our capacity for self-defence is our guaranteed access to ready resupply of essential war stocks. Emergency war stocks of equipment and munitions would be prohibitively expensive to maintain ourselves. However, our needs could be relatively easily met from United States stocks. Such support is also readily granted by an ally still making up its mind on a broader military and political contribution in a crisis. For these reasons we can be very confident that emergency resupply would be available. Such material support is a vital American contribution to our self-reliant defence posture. The availability of American intelligence, advanced technology, and logistic support makes a self-reliant defence capability for Australia achievable and affordable. American co-operation enables the development of effective Australian defence with a realistic level of financial allocation. The American alliance, of course, also provides a substantial deterrent. Whilst it would be irresponsible to depend on direct American combat support for our security, the possibility that this would be forthcoming would greatly complicate the offensive strategy of a potential aggressor.

In developing the ability to look after ourselves, we also develop a range of capabilities with significant potential for allied co-operation. Our frigates with Seahawk anti-submarine helicopters, our FA18s with in-flight refuelling, our new highly capable submarines, our F111s, our new long range light patrol frigates, and a mobile and readily deployable Army-these elements of a self-reliant Defence Force could clearly contribute significantly to joint allied operations in our region or further afield should the government of the day so decide. Defence self-reliance, therefore, both allows Australia to provide for its own defence and maintains our substantial capacity to make a practical contribution to Western security. Confidence in Australia's ability to defend itself, and in our capacity for allied co-operation, considerably enhances perceptions of Australia as a stabilizing influence in our region. A self-reliant Australian defence policy therefore directly assists the protection of Western interests through its contribution to regional stability.

The stabilising effect of Australian self- reliance is far from our only contribution to Western security. Australia's military co-operation with the United States in a range of activities from joint exercises to the provision of port access and staging and training facilities is also a tangible indication of our support for the Western Alliance. In particular, Australia's hosting of the joint Australia-United States defence facilities at Pine Gap, Nurrungar and North West Cape contributes substantially to the maintenance of global stability. The facilities at Pine Gap and Nurrungar play a central role in the verification of arms control and disarmament agreements as well as giving the United States confidence in its ability to detect missile launches and monitor nuclear explosions. The joint defence facility at North West Cape permits reliable transfer of messages to both United States ships and submarines operating in the Indian Ocean and Western Pacific as part of a complex system of communications supporting the global balance.

The joint facilities in Australia contribute directly to mutual deterrence between the super-powers, a necessary intermediate stage on the path to complete disarmament. More specifically, they have real significance in efforts to make substantial progress towards arms control. Their early warning function is important in the avoidance of accidental war and assists a stable central balance. Australia's military co-operation with the United States and our hosting of the joint facilities enhance global security by making nuclear war between the super-powers less likely. This contribution to world stability is obviously of direct and immediate benefit to our own prospects for a peaceful existence. The defence paper clearly indicates that other elements of the Government's defence policy also directly support regional stability and protect Western interests in our part of the globe.

Australia's long-standing defence relationship with New Zealand and our common perception of security objectives in the South West Pacific and South East Asia will remain an important factor in regional stability. The ability of Australian and New Zealand forces to operate together and to support and sustain each other adds significantly to the joint defensive capacity of our two nations. In addition, our common concern to maintain the favourable strategic orientation of our region has led to a range of co-operative defence activities, particularly in the South West Pacific.

The Australian Government has stated clearly its complete disagreement with New Zealand's policy on port access for allied nuclear powered or armed vessels. The Australian Government looks forward to a full resumption of a trilateral ANZUS relationship as soon as this is feasible. Meanwhile, it is important not to lose sight of New Zealand's continuing contribution to secur- ity in our region. We have therefore been pleased by New Zealand's ready response to the initiatives I announced some weeks ago on the South Pacific and its willingness to involve itself in a wide range of co-operative defence procurement with Australia. The Government regards it as important that New Zealand retains the military capability to operate with us, both in our mutual defence and in aiding our neighbours in the South Pacific. The New Zealand Government's recent White Paper on defence and my own discussions with New Zealand Ministers confirm the New Zealand Government's commitment to maintaining and developing a full range of defence capabilities compatible with our own.

Australia has a continuing close relationship with Papua New Guinean defence matters. Papua New Guinea is an important factor in our security, and we in turn have a long-standing commitment to Papua New Guinea's security. We will continue to provide specialist advice to the Papua New Guinean defence force and to consult on regional defence issues.

The five-power defence arrangements-FPDA-remain relevant to our defence policy objectives of promoting strategic stability and security in our region. These arrangements were established in 1971 at the time of Britain's withdrawal from east of Suez to provide a framework to support the external defence of Malaysia and Singapore and for the development of their defence capabilities. Since that time, the two countries' defence forces have expanded considerably and the formation and consolidation of the Association of South East Asian Nations has reinforced the ability of each member to withstand external pressure and has fostered the development of a broad political and strategic consensus. With changing circumstances, including New Zealand's announcement of its planned withdrawal from Singapore in 1989, Australia is particularly important in maintaining the FPDA framework. Australia does this through our Mirage deployments, our P3C maritime surveillance operations, our naval deployments, participation in bilateral and multilateral exercises and other defence co-operation activities. As the Government has previously announced, a Royal Australian Air Force presence at Butterworth and Singapore will be maintained after the withdrawal of the Mirage aircraft in 1988 by rotational deployments of FA18 aircraft, supplemented on some occasions by F111 aircraft. The Army Rifle Company will continue to be deployed to Butterworth, as will RAAF P3C aircraft. It is important to understand that this activity is not seen as a leftover from an era long gone. This Government has had several opportunities to view the situation afresh and has concluded that there is substantial political value in our co-operation.

The Soviet Union's naval and naval air presence at Cam Rahn Bay is a significant concern for Australian defence policy. The Soviet Union does not enjoy naval and air dominance in the region and in the event of global conflict its military assets in Vietnam would be very vulnerable to United States forces in the region. Nonetheless its presence is an adverse element in regional security. Its primary significance lies in the political influence it provides the Soviet Union. It gives added importance to our defence co-operative activities in the region, particularly our maritime surveillance of the South China Sea and the north-east Indian Ocean and our naval deployment to the region.

In the South Pacific, Australia is a major regional power. Recent developments affecting the South Pacific have contributed to an increasingly complex political and strategic situation. Accordingly, the Government is working to explore and develop measures for defence co- operation among our island neighbours that will help ensure strategic stability and security in the region. In my parliamentary statement of 20 February 1987 on defence initiatives in the South Pacific, I announced these measures and noted the Government's intention to give defence relations with the island states the same priority we give our older-established relations with the nations of South East Asia.

To this point I have been dealing with matters related to our area of strategic concern and our broader defence relationships. Important as these considerations are at this level, they do not determine our force structure. That is determined, as I established earlier, by the requirements of strategy in our area of direct military interest. I will now examine this matter in more detail. The Government has accepted advice that a strategy of comprehensive defence in depth requires military superiority in the sea-air gap to the north and across the vast expanse of northern Australia. Defence in depth means that an opponent would founder on layers of deployed defence assets through and to our north.

The first layer comprises high quality and comprehensive intelligence about military developments in our region, and a variety of surveillance capabilities to detect and track hostile intruders in our maritime and air approaches. I mentioned earlier our regional intelligence capability and I stressed the benefits we receive from co-operation with the United States in this field. This Government plans to add to the tactical value of this information by constructing a network of up to three over-the-horizon radars in the north of Australia. Provision has been made in the defence program to supplement these with an airborne early warning and control capability. We propose to develop also a national system of air defence and airspace control. For the first time in our history these initiatives will enable comprehensive tactical surveillance of the great expanse of our sea and air approaches. A substantial new intelligence facility will be built in Western Australia, and the capabilities of our 20 Orion P3C maritime surveillance aircraft will be improved by the acquisition of new sensors.

The second layer is a naval-air capability to destroy enemy forces in our approaches and to protect focal points and shipping lanes. For higher levels of conflict it means having forces able to strike at an adversary's bases and able to interdict his lines of supply. The key components of our strike and interdiction capability are the F111s and FA18s, and the submarines. Options are being considered to refurbish the F111s to reduce operating costs and to maintain them in service. The need for F18 aircraft to supplement the F111 fleet will be considered. The value of the F18s in the strike and air defence role is being enhanced by the acquisition of an airborne refuelling capability using the RAAF's 707 aircraft.

The strike capability of Australia's submarine fleet will be greatly increased when the current Oberons are replaced by new submarines specifically designed for Australian requirements and built in Australia. These will be among the largest, longest range and most lethal conventional submarines operating anywhere in the world when they come into service in the 1990s. The Government plans to increase substantially the size and capability of the Navy's fleet of surface combatants. It has initiated a project to build eight light patrol frigates with the range, speed and seakeeping to operate throughout our area of direct military interest and beyond. They will each carry a helicopter, and be fitted with a range of modern sensors and weapons. With the two extra guided missile frigates, in addition to the four already in service, and our guided missile destroyers, the eight light patrol frigates will increase the Navy's fleet of surface combatants from 12 at present to 16 or 17.

Equally important, the Government has decided to create a genuine two-ocean navy by basing half the fleet at HMAS Stirling in Western Australia. This will enhance the Navy's capability to operate throughout our area of direct military interest. The anti-submarine capabilities of the Navy will be developed by the purchase of Seahawk helicopters and the development of surface and submarine-towed acoustic arrays. The air defence capabilities of the ADF are being dramatically enhanced as the new F18's enter service, a system of airspace control is developed and a line of air bases across Australia's north is completed. One squadron of F18s will be based at Tindal, bare bases have or are to be established at Learmonth and Derby in Western Australia, and one is planned for Cape York Peninsula.

The third layer comprises a flexible ground force with air and naval support able to react to any enemy incursion right across our territory and able to protect dispersed population centres and civil and military infrastructure. We will develop a highly mobile army for this layer with state-of-the-art battlefield helicopters. Priority will be given to the needs of dispersed Army operations in the north. More of the Army will be based there, beginning with the 2nd Cavalry Regiment to be based in Darwin. Studies will begin on the relocation of a full brigade to the north. The role of the Army Reserves will be substantially widened. Specific units will be allocated vital installations and infrastructure in the north to defend in times of emergency. Their involvement in tank warfare and artillery will be increased.

High priority is being given by the Government to the development of a mine countermeasure capability. This is particularly important in meeting low level contingencies, as many nations in our region now have the capability to lay mines. Unfortunately Australia's mine countermeasures capability has been allowed to run down, and a major effort is now required to restore it. At least six in-shore minehunters are being sought, and innovative minesweeping capabilities are being explored. Naval reserves will be expanded to undertake mine countermeasures in key areas.

Lastly, several important initiatives are under way in the vital area of command, control and communications:

A joint operational command system has been created by the appointment of maritime, land force and air commanders who report directly to the Chief of the Defence Force.

Computer-based information systems are being developed to support the decision-making of operational and higher-level commanders.

New communication systems to support operations and administration will be introduced, making use of modern technological developments including satellites. The use of cryptographic security will be considerably extended.

This system of comprehensive defence in depth will give us the ability to counter those threats that are possible now and ensure our substantial capacity to deter fundamental challenges to our sovereignty that may arise in the future. To implement our strategy of defence in depth, the Government is making sweeping improvements to our defence capabilities. These improvements will ensure that we possess a defence force structured, equipped, supported, and trained to assure our security into the twenty-first century. This program for our future force development is based on a rigorous analysis of Australia's unique defence environment. Equally, it is based on a totally realistic assessment of defence allocations.

The 1976 White Paper foundered on an unrealistic promise of sustained and substantial real increases in defence spending. The present Opposition spokesman on defence, the right honourable member for New England (Mr Sinclair), acknowledged this when he said:

The White Paper brought down in the early days of the Fraser/Anthony Government set parameters which would have enabled the ADF to meet more adequately any possible contingency in our region in the 1990s.

He went to to say:

Regrettably even the capital program that the White Paper envisaged was not matched by successive defence budgets.

The coalition's failure to produce a responsible and affordable defence program has left many Australians cynical about their country's capability to defend itself. This Government takes a wholly realistic view of the financial constraints of Australia's defence posture. This defence paper is being presented in a more stringent financial environment than that faced by any government in the Fraser years. All political parties are promising to cut government expenditure. It is against this reality that hairy-chested demands for more defence spending must be tested.

We have developed a defence program which we are confident can be achieved despite these stringent conditions. Our confidence that the program can be achieved is based on the flexibility in the program over 10 to 15 years, and our record in increasing and maintaining the share of the defence budget which we devote to capital spending. Capital spending has been lifted to a consistent level of over 25 per cent of the defence vote, and this year it will reach over 30 per cent. By maintaining this level of capital spending, the program outlined in this paper can be afforded even without real growth in the defence budget overall. At current levels, the defence budget provides nearly $40 billion for capital expenditure over the next 15 years, while the capital program outlined in this paper requires only a little over half of that sum. This allows the Government the flexibility it needs to meet further requirements for equipment and facilities, and to expand manpower and operating budgets, as circumstances demand over the next 15 years.

These figures show that we can afford the defence we need, provided we focus carefully on our real priorities. What we cannot afford is everybody's defence wish list-nuclear submarines, aircraft carriers, more tanks. All these carry a price tag which cannot be met within the Opposition's views on public spending, and cannot be justified in the rational ordering of our defence priorities. The coalition's record on defence spending between 1976 and 1983 will make people very sceptical of any Opposition claims that it will increase defence spending when it is promising to cut everything else.

The Government is committed to more efficient defence. As well as making better use of our reserve forces, the Government will conduct a range of management reviews to identify areas in which regular Australian Defence Force personnel can be replaced at less cost by civilians or the use of private industry. Better management and more effective work practices will also be introduced. A particular area where the Government is extracting significant cost savings is in its management of defence factories and dockyards. These measures are directly saving around $60m per year, which is equivalent to around one per cent real growth in the defence budget.

All Government factories and dockyards will use commercial costing and pricing procedures from 1 July this year. They will have to perform to the standards of competitive private industry and comply with specific production management agreements. Excess capacity in defence factories is being discarded. The Albion Explosives Factory in Victoria has been closed and its important capabilities are being transferred to the Mulwala Explosives Factory in New South Wales. The aircraft engineering workshops at Pooraka in South Australia have been sold to private industry. The Government Aircraft Factories in Victoria are being converted to a government-owned company, Aerospace Technologies of Australia. Substantial work force reductions have been made at other individual establishments and in the Office of Defence Production.

The reforms I have just described go a long way to giving us the financial flexibility in defence planning essential at a time when all government outlays face some serious belt tightening. The basic point is this: This Government's clear strategic planning with an ordered conception of our defence priorities and its tough financial management mean we can have more defence without spending more money.

A commitment to the defence of Australia must include a commitment to the industrial strength and financial well-being of the nation. I have described how our defence factories and dockyards will be encouraged to adopt a competitive and commercially oriented approach. Australian industry in general will be given extensive opportunities for involvement in defence projects on a competitive basis. Special briefings on the planned defence program will be provided to local enterprises.

The offsets and defence designated and assisted work schemes will continue to be used to provide defence work for Australian industry. Specific measures to assist exports have already been introduced. And international collaboration between Australian and overseas firms in high technology defence projects will be actively promoted. Here I must thank one of my consultants, Bob Cooksey, for a very useful report on the subject of defence exports.

The biggest boost to Australian industry, however, will come from the opportunities provided to local enterprises in the development of a self-reliant Australian Defence Force. A major beneficiary of this Government's defence policy will be the local shipbuilding industry. Australian companies will have leading roles in the local construction of our new submarines and new long range light patrol frigates. The value of this construction work for local industry is many billions of dollars. It constitutes the largest shipbuilding program in Australia's peacetime history. It will bring considerable high technology skill in ship construction and maintenance to this country and substantially enhance our ability to support independent maritime operations. More generally, Australian industry will be involved intensively in the support, maintenance and development of the Australian Defence Force.

The Government is committed to making Australia's defence industries competitive and efficient so that we can buy Australian without paying high cost premiums. The extensive defence work to be undertaken in Australia over the next 10 years will assist some important national aims. This country cannot afford to be saddled again with the sort of huge balance of payments slug imposed on us by the FA18 program which, despite good management of the project, in one year represented 4 per cent of Australia's balance of trade deficit. This Government's initiatives for defence-related industry will increase our self-reliance and benefit the Australian economy generally.

The most valuable resource in our nation's security is, of course, Australia's defence personnel. The Government's capital investment program will give them the new equipment and facilities they need to play their proper role in the defence of this country. The Government will continue to allocate the largest share of the defence budget to defence personnel. We have already initiated, and plan for the future, a range of personnel policies to further develop a well-trained and motivated Defence Force.

This Government has established an independent and impartial wage-fixing system for the Defence Force. We plan to spend $750m over the next 10 years on new housing for the Defence Force. This is one of the Opposition's main criticisms and yet it was the coalition, when in government, that shamefully neglected housing for the Services. We are providing the necessary resources to improve living conditions. A new Defence Housing Authority has been created through legislation introduced this sitting, and the problems of service families have been addressed by Sue Hamilton in a special report commissioned by this Government. Her recommendations to alleviate the problems service families face are being dealt with.

This is the first defence policy information paper for 10 years. The defence White Paper in 1976 recognised that self-reliance is the only responsible defence posture for Australia. The paper which I am tabling today establishes precisely what is required to achieve a self-reliant defence posture, and establishes that self reliance is achievable within our alliances, and within our resources.

At this point I think it is appropriate I pay tribute to the work of Paul Dibb. Whatever his critics might think of the product of his review, it has set a new standard for defence debate in this country. Never again will those who wish to participate in the defence debate in this country simply be able to run off at the mouth with wish lists, persiflage and grandiloquence. The public has been educated to demand specifics. I should thank too the drafting team in the defence forces and Department who put long hours into this defence information paper, including over the Christmas period. I am glad that many of those associated with it are able to be in the gallery today.

The program outlined is a prudent one, with clear-cut priorities. It is based on a realistic assessment of our circumstances and our important alliance relationships. We are a powerful nation in regional terms, but with some serious deficiencies. We could not now deny ourselves self-reliance in the terms set out in this White Paper. We know the goal is achievable. I present the following papers:

Defence of Australia-a policy information paper, March 1987.

Defence of Australia-a policy information paper, Ministerial statement, 19 March 1987.

Motion (by Mr Kerin) proposed:

That the House take notice of the papers.

Debate (on motion by Mr Spender) adjourned.