Dr. David Mickler
School of Social and Political Sciences
Security Issues and
Australian Foreign Policy
National security
National security is central to any government’s
foreign policy objectives …
“The first priority of government is the nation’s
(PM Rudd 2008)
= protection of population, territory, resources,
infrastructure, way of life, from external (and
internal) threats in ‘anarchical’ international
Major themes in Australia’s security
• Australia’s geo-strategic ‘isolation’:
‘geography vs history’ (security)
• Asia as historical source of insecurity
• Need for ‘great and powerful friends’
• Globalisation and ‘new’ security threats
In the past …
• Defense against military attack by another
state the primary concern
• Security via British Empire until WWII
• Shift to military alliance with USA: ANZUS
Treaty 1951
• Cold War: tied to US global anti-communist
security agenda
Approaches to Australian defence
(1) Forward defence: make contribution
as ‘junior partner’ to the overseas wars
of allies (as ‘insurance policy’). Global
(2) Continental defence: focus on
defending Australian mainland from
local threats. Regional focus.
Contemporary global security environment
• Less actual or potential traditional wars
between states
• Concerns about intra-state conflict and
risks from ‘failed states’
• Globalisation and transnational security
‘New’ security issues for Australian gov’t
• Transnational terrorism
• Proliferation of WMD (+ terrorism)
• Transnational organised crime
• Global health pandemics
• Climate change
Australian gov’t foreign policy responses
• Tighten border security
• Forward defence: Iraq & Afghanistan
• Intervention in regional ‘arc of instability’: East
Timor & Solomon Islands
• International cooperation (global, regional,
Key questions …
• US alliance: enhance or undermine Australian
national security? Defence self-reliance?
• Impact of rise of China and India on
international (& Australia’s) security?
• Security focus: regional or global?
• How to manage inter-dependent security in a
globalised world?
© Copyright The University of Melbourne 2008
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