Australian defence planning: five views from policy makers

Author/s (editor/s):

Kim Beazley, Arch Bevis, Alexander Downer, Helen Hookey, Ian McLachlan, Denny Roy, Hugh White

Publication year:

1997

Publication type:

Policy paper

Canberra Papers on Strategy and Defence No. 120

The essays in this book were originally presented as speeches to the SDSC/IISS conference on The New Security Agenda in the Asia-Pacific Region, May 1996. They assess Australia's position, interests and available courses of action in the post-Cold War strategic environment. Several interesting themes emerge, including the difficulty of deciding the proper balance between various possible uses of tightly constrained defence funds; the tension between Australia's stated interest in implementing the principle of self-reliance and the country's continued dependence on its security relationship with the United States; the struggle Australia faces maintaining the Australian Defence Force's relative military capabilities in a region filled mostly with countries that are exhibiting rapid economic development and comparatively rapid upgrading of their armed forces; and Australia's interest in a stable region, even if its own capacity to bring about this outcome is limited and several potential crises are already visible on the horizon.

Contributors include Australia's Minister for Defence, Minister for Foreign Affairs, Leader of the Opposition and Shadow Minister for Defence, and a senior Defence public servant. The analyses in their papers provide insights into the assumptions and attitudes within the country's policy-making circles today, perhaps foreshadowing critical decisions that will affect Australian security well into the future of this uncertain era.

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