The ostrich sticks its head in the sand and thinks itself safe

Author/s (editor/s):

David Feeney

Publication year:


Publication type:

Discussion paper

Australia is entering the most challenging security environment since the end of World War II. While ‘protecting the Rules Based Global Order’ were central features of the Defence White Paper 2016 (DWP2016) and Foreign Policy White Paper 2017, strategists and defence planners already believe that the old order is gone, and the world is transitioning into a new, and more dangerous era. The new Morrison Coalition Government, facing a difficult election in mid-2019 and confronting the challenge of minority status in the Parliament, is unlikely to change any of Australia’s existing foreign policy and defence settings.

But time is not Australia’s friend. We are in relative decline. Twenty-five years ago the Australian economy was the same size as China’s, bigger than India’s and bigger than all of the ASEAN nations combined. Today, China’s economy is five times bigger than ours. The pace of change means Australia needs to make important, hard choices concerning its future now. This will be the daunting reality that will confront a Shorten Labor Government, should the Australian Labor Party win the next Federal election. The Prime Minister, together with Penny Wong in Foreign Affairs and Richard Marles in Defence, will largely shoulder the task of navigating Australia forward in the world with a clear-eyed vision of our national interests and the actions required to secure them. To achieve security in this era, this paper identifies the need for an Australian Grand Strategy. One which will consider and coordinate the actions we can take, as a status quo medium power, to support the RBGO and secure Australia’s economic, strategic and diplomatic national interests.

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