Prime Minister, Minister for Defence – Joint Media Release – New Defence White Paper 2013

Prime Minister Julia Gillard and Defence Minister Stephen Smith today announced that the Government will start work on a new Defence White Paper, to be delivered in the first half of 2013.

There have been a number of significant developments internationally and domestically since the 2009 White Paper which are influencing Australia’s defence posture, future force structure and defence budget.  

These are most appropriately addressed through a new White Paper.   

The Gillard Government remains committed to delivering the core capabilities identified in the 2009 White Paper and to delivering one of the most capable defence forces in our region, with the people and equipment needed for the task.  

The Government is also committed to making strategic, risk-based decisions about Australia’s long-term national security and defence needs. 

This means the Government needs to periodically and methodically review the future capability requirements of the Australian Defence Force to ensure that they are appropriate to changing circumstances. 

As outlined in the 2009 Defence White Paper, this process involves a new White Paper at intervals no greater than five years.  

On a five year timetable, the next paper is not due until this time in 2014. 

However, because of the significant developments internationally and domestically since the 2009 White Paper, the Government is bringing forward this schedule.    

These developments include:

The Australian Defence Force’s (ADF) operational drawdown 

Australia has committed to long-term support for Afghanistan. But as recently outlined by the Prime Minister, our training and mentoring forces in Afghanistan will drawn down and return to Australia in line with the ISAF transition strategy. 

In addition, it is likely the ADF’s deployments in East Timor and Solomon Islands will potentially start to draw down during 2013. 

These transitions will involve a major readjustment to ADF posture and Australia’s defence priorities. The Government needs to carefully work through what impact this will have on the ADF. 

The Australian Defence Force Posture Review (FPR) 

The FPR assessed whether the Australian Defence Force is correctly positioned, geographically, to meet Australia’s current and future strategic challenges.   

It was the first review since work done in the mid 1980s by Professor Dibb for then Defence Minister Beazley.

The FPR also addressed the range of present and emerging global, regional and national strategic and security factors which require careful consideration for the future. 

It is important that Defence and the Government consider the judgments outlined in the FPR report in an orderly way, through a White Paper process.

The ongoing effects of the Global Financial Crisis 

The 2009 Defence White Paper noted that the Global Financial Crisis (GFC) was the most serious global economic and financial crisis in decades, and that its strategic impacts were still unfolding. 

Since then, the GFC has continued to have a significant impact on the global economy.

Following the GFC, the defence forces of major developed countries have increased efficiencies and reduced their budgets, including the United States, the United Kingdom and Canada.

Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper was completed before the unfolding of these events. Financial circumstances clearly present a real challenge to the 2013 White Paper.

Strategic change in our region

The Strategic change described in the 2009 White Paper has continued, particularly the shift of economic weight to our region.

Defence reform 

In 2011, Defence commenced implementation of a wide ranging reform program, including in the areas of capability development, procurement and acquisition, the Defence Budget and the strengthening of personal and institutional accountability. 

Australian defence industry skills 

Australia needs to have the necessary skills and capacity in the Australian defence industry to support the future requirements of the Australian Defence Force, including building and sustaining new capabilities. 

The 2013 White Paper will build on work already completed or underway since 2009, including: 

The Defence Planning Guidance 

The classified Defence Planning Guidance (DPG) is Defence’s lead strategy document. It articulates the strategic priorities that guide Defence to produce the military outcomes sought by Government.

The DPG includes analysis of the future strategic environment, identifying the contingencies Australia might face in the bracketed timeframes of 0 to 5, 5 to 15 and 20 or more years.

The DPG is updated annually to set strategic guidance for force structure and capability development, corporate planning, resource planning, preparedness management and critical enabling functions.

The update to the 2011 DPG has been completed and will be considered by Government in the near future.

The Australian Force Structure Review

In the Defence White Paper 2009, the Government determined a development process for future White Papers, with Defence to prepare, prior to a White Paper, a Force Structure Review (FSR).

The FSR will provide costed force structure options for use in developing the White Paper – assessing the equipment and capabilities the ADF needs to deliver national security and defence priorities.

Defence commenced its FSR in November 2011.

The Defence Capability Plan Review

Defence has completed a full review of the Defence Capability Plan (DCP) including an audit of the plan and the development of new frameworks and methodologies for its management.

The DCP Review was considered in the 2012-13 Budget process.

The Australian Force Posture Review

  • the rise of the Asia-Pacific as a region of global strategic significance;
  • the rise of the Indian Ocean rim as a region of global strategic significance;
  • the growth of military power projection capabilities of countries in the Asia Pacific;
  • the growing need for the provision of humanitarian assistance and disaster relief following extreme events in the Asia Pacific region; and
  • energy security and security issues associated with expanding offshore resource exploitation in our North West and Northern approaches.

The Defence Budget

The Government needs to ensure that Defence spending is calibrated against an up to date assessment of short and longer term priorities.

At the time of the 2011-12 Budget it was determined that there would be a $1.6 billion underspend for the 2010-11 financial year.

In this context, Defence has conducted a comprehensive stock take of the Defence budgeting system, taking into account all budget processes, estimation methods and underlying budget assumptions. 

This includes the way in which Defence’s Capital equipment budgets are formulated and managed, including the ongoing utility of contingency, slippage and over-programming. 

The Minister for Defence has asked Dr Allan Hawke, Mr Ric Smith and Mr Paul Rizzo to form a Ministerial Advisory Group to assist in the development of the 2013 Defence White paper.

Dr Hawke and Mr Smith are both former Secretaries of the Department of Defence. 

Mr Rizzo, a Director of a number of major Australian corporations including the National Australia Bank and Mallesons Stephen Jacques and is the Independent Chair of the Defence Audit and Risk Committee, led the development of the plan to address problems in the repair and management of the amphibious and support ship fleet.

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