Australian Defence Strategies 2020

12 Jul 2020


The Government’s firm commitment to the Australian people remains that we will keep our nation safe and protect our way of life for future generations.

It is clear, however, that Australia’s strategic environment has deteriorated more rapidly than anticipated when we made this commitment in the 2016 Defence White Paper. This deterioration means that adjustments should be made by the Government to our defence policy, capability and force structure.

This 2020 Defence Strategic Update sets out the challenges in Australia’s
strategic environment and their implications for Defence planning.
Our region is in the midst of the most consequential strategic realignment
since the Second World War, and trends including military modernisation,
technological disruption and the risk of state-on-state conflict are further
complicating our nation’s strategic circumstances.
The Indo-Pacific is at the centre of greater strategic competition, making the
region more contested and apprehensive. These trends are continuing and will potentially sharpen as a result of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

As a result of the decisions taken by the Government in the 2016 Defence
White Paper, substantial progress has been made in transforming the Australian Defence Force into a more capable, agile and potent force. This has been underpinned by investment in Australia’s military capabilities and industries, a focus on strengthened international engagement, particularly with the United States, Japan, India, ASEAN and other allies and partners in our region, and successful implementation of the 2015 First Principles Review by the Department of Defence.

The Government has directed Defence to implement a new strategic policy
framework that signals Australia’s ability – and willingness – to project military power and deter actions against us. Under this new framework, Defence’s 2020 DEFENCE STRATEGIC UPDATE strategic objectives are to deploy military power to shape Australia’s strategic environment, deter actions against our interests and, when required, respond
with credible military force.

These objectives require new military capabilities and demonstrated resolve. The Government will invest approximately $270 billion over the coming decade in new and upgraded Defence capabilities, including more potent and longer-range combat systems and more secure supply chains. The Government will also continue deepening our alliance with the United States and strengthening our regional engagement across the Indo-Pacific, including through the Pacific Step-Up, and increase the Australian Defence Force’s ability to respond to natural disasters, including within Australia.

As a nation – and as an important regional leader in the global community –
Australia is experiencing significant changes to our strategic environment. The 2020 Defence Strategic Update ensures Australia has the strategic defence policy to deal with these challenges.

The Hon Scott Morrison MP Prime Minister and Senator the Hon Linda Reynolds CSC Minister for Defence