Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defence Minister Stephen Smith today released the 2013 Defence White Paper.
The 2013 Defence White Paper complements the National Security Strategy released on 23 January 2013, and the Australia in the Asian Century White Paper released on 28 October 2012.
These three documents are a statement of the priority the Government places on Australia’s security and prosperity, and on maintaining a strong Australian Defence Force to meet Australia’s national security challenges.
The White Paper addresses the range of significant international and domestic developments since 2009, which influence Australia’s national security and defence settings, including their impact on force posture, future force structure and the Defence budget.
These developments include:
- the ongoing economic strategic and military shift to the Indo-Pacific;
- the Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) operational drawdown from Afghanistan, Timor-Leste and Solomon Islands;
- the United States’ re-balance to the Asia-Pacific;
- Australia’s substantially enhanced practical cooperation with the United States pursuant to our Alliance relationship; and
- the ongoing adverse effects of the Global Financial Crisis, which have continued to have a significant deleterious impact on the global economy, domestic fiscal circumstances and Defence funding.
The White Paper outlines the Government’s judgement that the strategic shift to the Indo-Pacific means growing prosperity, but also brings some uncertainty and risk.
Regional military modernisation is increasing the ability of nations to exert military power.
The security architecture in our region that will help manage security risks is still evolving, but is being enhanced through the East Asia Summit, the ASEAN Defence Ministers Meeting Plus, the ASEAN Regional Forum and other valuable regional forums.
As countries in our region modernise their defence forces, there is scope to implement deeper strategic and security partnerships, building on our longstanding cooperation.
The White Paper details how we plan to strengthen these partnerships and develop deeper defence bilateral and multi-lateral relationships through strategic dialogue, exercises, personnel exchanges and training opportunities.
The White Paper reaffirms the importance of our longstanding Alliance with the United States as our most important relationship and a cornerstone of our defence policy. The United States’ rebalance to our region presents further opportunities for cooperation with Australia through a range of enhanced practical cooperation measures.
The White Paper also outlines how the Government will implement the Australian Defence Force Posture Review, which reinforced the need for a contemporary force posture in Australia that can support high tempo operations in our northern and western approaches, strengthened cooperation with the United States and regional partners, and the ADF’s ability to support humanitarian assistance and disaster relief operations in our neighbourhood.
A strong, capable, and credible ADF underpins our own national security, and is a core element of our broader influence and engagement in our region.
To that end, the 2013 Defence White Paper reflects the Government’s strong commitment to maintaining a highly skilled, capable and adaptable ADF as we transition from over a decade of demanding and intensive operations.
The White Paper reaffirms the core capability commitments the Government made in the 2009 Defence White Paper and since 2009. These commitments will ensure that we maintain world class defence capabilities that are integrated to support effective, joint ADF operations.
The White Paper also includes major new capability commitments that are critical to Australia’s long-term defence and security.
The Government will acquire 12 new build EA-18G Growler aircraft instead of converting 12 of Australia’s F/A-18F Super Hornets to Growlers, thereby retaining all 24 Super Hornets in their current configuration.
This important decision will assure a first-class air combat capability for Australia through the transition period to the Joint Strike Fighter, which will proceed on its current schedule.
The White Paper also outlines the Government’s decision that the Future Submarine Program will focus on two options: an ‘evolved Collins Class’ design; and new design options that are likely to best meet Australia’s strategic requirements. The Government has also directed further detailed work on establishing a land-based test facility in Adelaide – the Submarine Propulsion Energy Support and Integration Facility – which will substantially assist submarine capability design, delivery and sustainment and reduce risk in all stages of the Future Submarine Program.
The Future Submarine Industry Skills Plan, which is also being released today, provides a plan to ensure that Australia maintains skills and expertise in the maritime sector to successfully deliver and sustain Australia’s naval capabilities into the future.
This White Paper also reinforces the critical role of Australian industry in the development, employment, and sustainment of defence capability, in partnership with government.
An effectively functioning Australian Defence Organisation is a critical part of protecting and defending Australia’s national security interests.
The 2013 White Paper outlines an integrated reform agenda to embed in Defence at all levels the significant and wide ranging reform program which this Government has commenced in the areas of individual personal and institutional accountability, budget processes, procurement and capability and Defence conduct and culture.
The Government will ensure that Defence has the resources and guidance it needs to deliver Government’s priorities in this White Paper.
The Government has decided to bring forward Defence funding to fund the acquisition of the 12 new build EA-18G Growler aircraft and for a range of internal Defence priorities. The Government will provide an additional small real increase in Defence funding over the Forward Estimates period.
The Government has also committed to increase Defence funding towards a long-term target of 2 per cent of GDP in an economically responsible manner, as and when fiscal circumstances allow.
The White Paper highlights a funding model for Defence based on the Federal Budget four-year forward estimates cycle, with subsequent six-year general guidance to assist Defence capability planning. The upcoming 2013-14 Budget will provide details on Defence funding.
The Global Financial Crisis showed that strategic circumstances can change with little warning and can have significant implications for the Australian Defence Force. It also showed that it is not sensible planning to assume financial or economic circumstances will remain constant over time.
The initiatives and projects outlined in the White Paper will remain subject to change as strategic circumstances evolve, new challenges and opportunities emerge and priorities are updated to reflect the changing requirements of Government and the Australian community, and their implications for Defence and the ADF.