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'Australia's national security: a defence update.

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MEDIA RELEASE SENATOR THE HON ROBERT HILL Minister for Defence Leader of the Government in the Senate


Wednesday, 26 February 2003 26/2003


Defence Minister Robert Hill today released a report on the first major review of Australia’s strategic environment and defence posture since the Defence White Paper was released in December 2000.

The report, Australia’s National Security: A Defence Update 2003, outlines the broad conclusions of an extensive classified Government review of Australia’s defence interests.

Senator Hill said the report highlighted that the strategic environment was being shaped by the twin global threats of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction and continued instability in Australia’s immediate region. This had implications for the Australian Defence Force, requiring a rebalancing of capabilities to ensure a more flexible and mobile force.

The report’s key conclusions are:

• Global terrorism and the spread of weapons of mass destruction have new prominence and represent real and immediate threats to Australia and its interests.

• The threat of direct military attack on Australia is less than it was in 2000, but geography does not protect Australia from rogue states armed with weapons of mass destruction and ballistic missiles or from terrorism.

• Australia’s immediate region continues to face major challenges, making it more vulnerable to transnational security threats.

• The changed global security environment and the increasing likelihood that Australian national interests could be affected by events outside our immediate neighbourhood mean that ADF involvement in coalition operations further afield is somewhat more likely than in the recent past.

• This is likely to involve the provision of important niche capabilities such as those deployed in the war against terror and those forward deployed to the Middle East for Operation Bastille.

• If adverse trends in our region continue, there may also be increased calls on the ADF for tasks in Australia’s immediate neighbourhood. Operation Bali Assist is a recent example.

• Some rebalancing of capabilities and priorities is needed to take account of the new strategic environment.

“The Government has already made numerous decisions in response to these developments,” Senator Hill said.

Media contacts Catherine Fitzpatrick (Senator Hill) 02 6277 7800 0405 351 245


“The re-balancing that is now required will not fundamentally alter the size, structure and role of the Australian Defence Force.

“But it will ensure a more flexible and mobile force, with sufficient levels of readiness, sustainability and interoperability to perform the increased range of tasks it is likely to have to play in our current strategic environment.

“The conclusions of the Defence Update will help shape the Government’s consideration of Defence capability and resource issues in the forthcoming Budget.”

Senator Hill said the report delivered on the Howard Government’s White Paper commitment to review periodically Australia’s strategic outlook to ensure Defence maintains the appropriate mix of concepts, capabilities and forces to meet new security challenges as they arise.

A full copy of the report can be found at