Launch of the Defence Data Strategy 2021-2023

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The Hon Andrew Hastie MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

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Ella Kenny 0437 702 111

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4 August 2021

Good morning everyone. It’s a pleasure to speak to you on this important day for Defence.

I thank the Secretary of Defence, Mr Greg Moriarty, and the Chief of the Defence Force, General Angus Campbell, for the opportunity to speak with you to officially launch the first Defence Data Strategy.

I also thank the Associate Secretary, Ms Katherine Jones, and the Vice Chief of Defence Force, Vice Admiral David Johnstone, for their leadership in developing this Strategy.

In particular, I pay tribute to Katherine Jones. She will be sadly leaving the Department later this week, but it has been a privilege to work with her and her team to get this job done – our loss is the Attorney General’s Department’s gain.

Katherine has been an outstanding public servant in this country for many years. This Strategy launched today is a fitting close to her time as Associate Secretary at Defence. Katherine – we wish you well, and we thank you.

The Government’s mission is to keep our nation safe and protect our way of life for future Australians.

With this in mind, I am pleased to release the Defence Data Strategy 2021-2023.

The creation of a new Data Strategy was key to the Defence Transformation Strategy when it was released late last year.

The Defence Transformation Strategy saw the vital importance of data to everything that we do in support of the Defence Mission.

As our strategic challenges evolve we are also witnessing the exponential growth of data and its application in the digital battle space.

In the uncertain years ahead, the use of data and the management of data will be fundamental to how we keep our nation and our people safe and secure.

The 2020 Defence Strategic Update identified that Australia’s security and geostrategic environment has deteriorated. 

Major power competition, military modernisation, disruptive technological change and new threats are all making our region less safe.

Expanding cyber warfare, grey zone tactics, and the willingness by some countries and non-state actors to use hostile cyber activities are further degrading Australia’s strategic environment.

These cyber activities will compromise military capability and operations if we fail to act.

They can also drive disinformation, weaken critical infrastructure, and destabilise political and social systems.

They are a reality that we cannot ignore.

Whether we like it or not, we are joined in an online contest to preserve our digital sovereignty as a country.

Therefore lifting Defence’s data maturity across the organisation will position us to achieve a strategic advantage over our adversaries. 

Today, our lives are lived in an online world. The internet is the neural pathway of our day-to-day lives. Our future is going to be more digital.

And I am pleased to see that Defence is taking steps to prepare for this future as data will be vital to the success of Defence operations, in times of war and peace.

Our data must be trusted and secure if we are going to counter disinformation and ensure that we are making the right decisions at the right time.

The capacity to remain competitive depends on Defence being a leader in operationalising data at speed and scale.

We know that information and data underpins all effective military operations and decision-making. 

Good data is the life blood of game-changing warfighting technologies, such as automated systems and Artificial Intelligence.

If we are to benefit from those technologies, we need to rapidly lift our data maturity.

Our targeting and combat systems, our satellites, and our sensors and weapons – are reliant on good data.

Our commanders and troops in the field, aircrew in the skies, and sailors on the sea will need access to fast and reliable data to win the fights of the future.

If we want to fight alongside our trusted partners and allies we need to be able to share critical mission and intelligence data securely and at speed.

If we want to build sovereign capabilities in partnership with Australian Defence Industry we need our intellectual property and data to be secure.

And the advice and policy options given to Government always need to be supported by a strong evidence base.

In this end, this is not just about our systems – the data challenge is ultimately solved by people, our people.

That’s why the Defence Data Strategy has a strong focus on Defence’s people and culture.

A strong data culture is the difference between success and failure.

The appointment of a Chief Data Integration Officer, and the creation of a new Data Division, shows that the senior leadership means business.

The Strategy shows how Defence will build strong data literacy and analytic skill sets within its personnel and workforce.

It will also create new data-centric career paths and opportunities for both our uniformed and public service members.

Defence will train its people in order to ensure that they are ready to meet the data challenges of the future.

As one of my UK counterparts recently noted: “we urgently need the nation’s cyber and digital talent. These people will be as vital to our defences as an F35 pilot, a special forces operator, or a submariner.”

We need to be more disciplined in how information is collected, stored, analysed, and most importantly how data is distributed across the Force.

Taking a disciplined approach to data management across the entire organisation will both protect and sharpen the Force.

The five pillars in the Defence Data Strategy – Govern, Trust, Discover, Use, Share – will help guide data management across the entire organisation.

It will ensure Defence remains mission-focused and challenge-ready, because that, ladies and gentlemen, is what we are about.

We cannot be complacent about data.

I know the Government is not complacent.

And I am confident that Defence is taking the right steps to meet our digital future.

I therefore commend the Defence Data Strategy to you all.

Thank you.

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