Speech - Opening of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Office

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The Hon Richard Marles MP

Deputy Prime Minister

Minister for Defence

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14 July 2022

Thank you Justin, thank you, Mark. It's a tremendous honour, really, to be here to open this office. Swedish minimalist is a way to describe it. As I looked at the exposed ceiling, I was kind of thinking what would this enter in terms of the genre you were going for. But it was pointed out to me that this is not a faux opening, this is literally the first day in the office, so, it's great to be here. And the fact that the significance of this moment, I think, is given expression by who is in the audience.I'm obviously here with the CDF and the Secretary, and it's great to have you both here. Jo, it's really wonderful to see you here as well. I didn't know that the four agency heads were allowed to sit next to each other four in a row. That is a little scary, as I look at the four of them. There'll be a moment during the proceedings where we'll all be looking in a different direction, and they will just vanish. But it is great that you're here and again says something about how important this moment is.

ASPI is now in its third decade and is a leading think tank in Australia, has been an enormous resource for me as I've come to, not really having a background in defence and strategic policy, but as is always the case with us in politics, needed to get on the horse pretty quickly. ASPI was fundamentally important to me in giving me the education that I needed around strategic policy, around defence, and in so many ways, the product of ASPI is critically important. Not only informing the Australian public, but those of us in government who seek to play a role in this space. And that's as it's been since 2001. When you look at what it was imagined when it was first set up, to who now supports ASPI financially and who uses its product, ASPI has grown and has blossomed, and we are really lucky to have ASPI in the firm, really, of think tanks in Australia. And I think, Justin, you are going to add the next chapter to ASPI, and I really wish you the best of luck in the role that you're performing.

Washington is many things. It's a centre of power, it's a centre of government. There are many people in this town who really are the custodians of American history, but it is a centre of thought. Square inch by square inch there are more think tanks in this place than anywhere else in the world. And so, it makes complete sense that ASPI would open its first office overseas right here. To take the advantage of that, to be in the stream of that thought, to feed that back into Australia's thinking around strategic policy. But as Justin said, it's a reciprocal process. It's not just about sucking in information, it's about inserting into the stream of thought here, how we see the world and the challenges that Australia faces and giving an Australian flavour to the nature of the discussion which is so important that takes place in this town.

And so, this is a really significant moment to be opening an office. And Mark, I think you should be really excited about the opportunity you've got. I know that the office will be under really safe stewardship in your hands, but it is a really significant thing.

I do want to - Peter's not here, I thought Peter was going to be here - but I do want to acknowledge Peter Dutton, my friend and my predecessor as Minister for Defence. He made the decision, and it's often the case in the way our government works that immediately after an election you end up being the beneficiary of one who's cutting the ribbon of the work that’s been done before you. I've been through that process on the other side, it can be a little frustrating. So let me acknowledge the decision that Peter made. It's to his credit that this day is happening, and he is worthy of praise in this moment. So, with those words, it is my enormous pleasure to be announcing the opening of ASPI's Washington office. Thank you.

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