Well thank you very much Commodore. I acknowledge the Chief of Navy and acknowledge all of you here, particularly the McNeil family.
One thing that might have been said about your relative was that at the end of World War II, we had the fourth largest Navy in the world, not by tonnage but by numbers of ships and no doubt that was due to two forces. One was that force of nature of your relative and the other was the United States Navy and the Royal Navy who sunk the bulk of a couple of our competitors. So he was in excellent company..
It’s also really a privilege to be here with all of you. You know my views about what’s important in political debates and how nations form opinions, what becomes salient opinion. What is important for me has changed a lot since I have been in the United States and seen a different society operate. It’s led me to be far more respectful of and concerned for the wellbeing of those in our society who take defence seriously which you do. And all of you have got different sorts of jobs, different sorts of roles in this community, some directly in command roles like the Chief and in roles that are associated with the civilian side. Defence roles in protecting the reputation and the history, roles in defending the status of the system and roles in its history, there’s a whole range of roles that are performed by you all of which add up to a collective memory and a collective forward view about what ought to be the nature, the character of our society as far as defence matters are concerned.
We are at a crisis point but we sit in it like the proverbial frog in boiling water. We do not recognise it. We have a hybrid American taxation system, we have a hybrid European social security system and we have a substantial defence problem that emanates from our distance from allies and the changing regional distribution of power. This does not cohere. This is not sustainable. And choices are going to be made around this White Paper, are going to be made around industry which are going to lend veracity to the view that I have always thought and that is the White Paper whenever it is produced does not end debate, it merely starts it and there is going to be an awful lot of water flow under the bridge for decisions taken to this point.
I’m not going to talk about the Navy today. I’m going to talk about American politics and the potential impact on our relationships and various outcomes that might occur in the presidential election later this year. I am very pleased to see the fact that we’ve come full circle in the White Paper and returned at least in the area of industry policy to the old strategy of self-reliance.
The industry policy and the associated measures by the Government, both in terms of ensuring it works and it is technologically excellent, are to be very much welcomed. However, one has the sneaking suspicion that for the folk involved at the start in writing that paper, that policy was not there and the policy subsequently appeared. The policy that subsequently appeared was a product of a political revolt and decisions that were taken subsequent to that, shifted us abruptly away from a course that we’d been pursuing, not with evil intent in any shape or form, but with less and less thought given if you like to questions of the sustainment of Australian industry, more and more to costs, putting pressure on the system to enable equipment to be bought elsewhere even if they had to be sustained here.
We have slammed what was prevailing industry policy into reverse. That is going to create major challenges for the people who manage these programs, particularly if some of the political pressure points diminish, but it is the right policy. It needs to be broadened. Self-reliance is not just simply industry policy, it’s about appreciating the total capacity of your population.
We used to in the 1980s talk about mobilisation, incorporating all our national assets, civil as well as military. We are a maritime nation and we are focused properly here on the Naval component of it, but it has a civilian component as well. The Americans think much better about that. We complain about the Jones Act and all the other things that are associated with it and the way the Americans operate their coastal shipping services. The Americans very consciously want to sustain a major marine capability. They take seriously the civilian component that is sustained by a healthy merchant marine around their coastline and further afield.
We view our merchant marine more in the context of struggle with the MUA and not in the context of what the nation really truly needs. That should change. We’re a good nation often ruined by politics. But politics at least produced something of a reasonable outcome here.
That’s all I want to say in that area and I want to move over to something else, but as I do start the talk about the United States, the most critical thing happening for us in the United States at the moment, aside from whether or not we have an isolationist as President, which is a very big aside from, is the oddly named Third Offset Strategy, but it is critical.
This is the direction in which the Americans are going to go as they try to find an affordable solution and effective solution to asymmetrical strategies which bedevil them around the oceans littoral and threaten their capacity to deploy for defensive objectives they consider important. They are seeking a third technological fix for military superiority. The science behind it is actually producing very close to finalised systems. They will introduce great complications for those pursuing asymmetrical strategies.
What needs to happen now for the deployment of it is money. The systems are there and they basically work. Now for our industry, for our platforms, the submarine that goes into the water in 10 years’ time, if it looks in its capacity like a contemporary submarine with contemporary purposes, our White Paper process will have failed completely.
The US is no longer operating the submarine as a sort of hunting wolf. It is operating it as the centre of systems for area control and it’s developing the autonomous capacities associated with that. The most critical decision that is going to be taken in relation to submarine programming is not simply just the platform, but it’s the way its systems cohere and integrate with other capabilities. It will not be in the way it coheres in a contemporary Collins submarine, good though that is. Now you can take that trend through the rest of our platforms.
The Americans are changing their views about what they need to do in terms of how they deploy. They’ve been so carrier focused. They’re shifting away now to enhancing smaller ships as well. Some of these new capacities ought to be being contemplated for the platforms that we plan and the systems we will put into them. Just take a look at something that occurred a couple of years ago with the modified USS Ponce. Cost them $40,000.000 to modify the Ponce to be able to operate a laser. Now that laser is capable of being utilised either to suppress the electronic systems of a ship or take it out. You’ve got a capacity to ramp it up to do one or other, or several of those things on the way through. Now a war shot of a missile to take out that particular ship would probably cost you the best part of $1,000,000. A laser war shot costs you 59c.
So these are the things that the Americans are thinking about. They are struggling because of the wretchedness of the way in which Congress treats the US defence budget. It’s not simply a matter of the operation of sequestration and cost cutting. Having straightened available resources they then direct outlays. They impose on it a whole range of obligations for veterans and current service families that are enormously costly. They sustain facilities and acquisition programs based on local political preferences, not need, in a ‘you scratch my back I’ll scratch yours’ relationship with each other. Congressman ought to know better when they look at the defence needs of the United States and make life impossible..
The US armed forces are finally coming to the understanding that if they are going to be able to do the tasks that they set themselves in relation to protecting the global commons and in relation to advancing our interests and the struggles that we have with fundamentalist terror and other threats, they cannot do it on the basis of their own initiative and capability. We talk a lot of our own interests in interoperability with the US. Within the next five years the Americans are going to talk about integration. What they will actually want of our platforms is the performance of tasks that they do not have the resources to do and for us I just cite one example.
The Marine Corps operating in the Pacific will be permanently short of two flat tops. In their own calculations, they need two flat tops more. Guess who’s got the two flat tops? These are the sorts of discussions that we’re going to be having and we need to think our way through. I’m not sure that the Australian public is prepared for the direction of that thinking and that is where you all come in you see, that’s where I started. So that’s the theme setting if you like. That’s the significance of what it is that we’re handling here.
I’m going to add another piece to that and that is my shock when I got to the United States to discover that we were vastly more deeply engaged with the Americans than we were during the Cold War. Vastly more deeply engaged. I didn’t expect that because it is counter intuitive. One would think that the Cold War alliances in the aftermath of the fall of the Berlin Wall would gradually fritter away. In a sense they did. The frozen architecture of the Cold War did melt, but what didn’t or wasn’t expected was that more and more the issues for the US would revolve not so much around structures but around states prepared to do things. The United States would increasingly seek a show of hands of those prepared not to act necessarily in accordance with the strict terms of triggers in alliance relationships. However, if we arrive at a conclusion that military assistance is required in a particular area for a particular political outcome, for particular purposes, who will do it with the US.
As they change their prioritisation globally, away from the old flashpoints of the Cold War, some of which are making a comeback in contemporary terms, but you know tragically as opposed to necessarily making a comeback. Increasingly this focus on the global commons is another thing. It’s important to talk about the global commons and one thing the Americans might consider doing is ratifying UNCLOS, the most important legal instrument on the commons.
It’s important to think about that, or say it, but why would you say it, well you’d say it because increasingly it is the economic character of the international community that drives priority and so the United States is automatically directed to our area. Hence their belief that they need to pay more attention to our region.
I used to wonder, why the Americans let me and the Hawke Government get away with such crap when we were operating in the 1980s. It wasn’t crap, they were good policies but they didn’t like what we were doing on Cambodia, they didn’t like what we were doing on South Pacific nuclear free zones, they were sceptical of what we were doing on dealing with weapons of mass destruction insofar as gas was concerned, they were concerned about defence self-reliance. There were a whole range of issues which they basically felt that perhaps we had just a touch but not an unacceptable touch of the New Zealands and that was a factor in my discussions from time to time with them but you know at the end of the day, none of it actually mattered.
It didn’t actually matter to the Americans because after Nixon’s press conference in Guam in 1969 when he made amply clear to countries like Australia and those in the zone we inhabited, that we were not on the top of their priorities during the Cold War. Not being at the top of their priorities, could we kindly get on with defending ourselves.
So once the Americans had ascertained that we were going to continue ‘gateway’ surveillance operations of the Soviet Fleet, once they ascertained we were not going to abandon the five power defence arrangement, once they ascertained that we were not going to stop their ships coming into our ports, once they ascertained that we were going to uphold and defend against political pressure, and this was the most important of them all, the joint facilities, they couldn’t care less what we did. Their view was that if you’re doing the things that are important for the central balance and the region’s stability and you say you’re prepared, that was the other thing, say you’re prepared to join up with us if there’s some issue that arises and we are seeking allies, then get on with it. That was the view that they effectively expressed to us and we made marvellous use of that freedom in an otherwise, as I said, frozen structure that existed around us.
Joint facilities were crucial and I’ll get on to talk about them a little because they’re crucial too to the way in which we have become closer.
How did we see them? Well we were unique in western alliance relationships. If you look at the great sacrifices that the US made after World War II when they could have used the fact that they drove 55% of global GDP to completely ignore the rest of the world and let us get on with it which would have been royally suitable punishment for the performance of the Europeans and the Japanese. They chose not to do that, they chose to confront the Soviet Union and place at risk their population. If the United States and Soviets clashed in any of these areas where people had been mad for centuries then the United States would have lost 100,000,000 people and the America we know would have been completely destroyed. That is a monumental sacrifice.
That is a statement unprecedented historically that a nation would place itself at that level of risk. Europeans, Japanese, they consumed American security. That was their position in the NATO and related alliance relationships.
We were the opposite. We would not have been a nuclear target but for those joint facilities. The United States consumed our security. The Americans recognised that and understood it and that’s why they put us on a very long leash because provided we were prepared to support the facilities, that was a position to be respected and to be utilised and not to be traduced.
So we had from the Americans an enormous level of freedom, of course we did not assume a nuclear war was going to occur and neither did they for that matter, but nevertheless there was a finite possibility of that. We also of course had choice as we looked around the globe to sources for our forces, equipment for our armed forces, and we made many choices; sometimes they involved the Americans sometimes they did not.
So what has changed now, what had changed when I got to Washington. One change of course was our position has changed. From being a strategic irrelevancy during the Cold War, we became the southern tier of the focal point of the global political system which was the East Asian economy. So our policies are no longer a matter of take it or leave it provided we do the right things by the deterrent. We are actually critical and the conversation that we have with the Americans is critical and they are prepared to treat us seriously on that basis. That’s a change.
Of course the threat that we might have felt that we would be a nuclear target, that has changed. We are less so now as numbers of nuclear weapons decline.
A further thing that had changed is the relative significance of the problems that we would confront in our region. When I was Defence Minister doing the White Paper in 1987, the Australian GDP was greater than that of ASEAN combined. This last White Paper has been in the context in which Indonesia alone probably over the next couple of years will pass us. So with the essential engine of defence strength, our economy, we have got an environment where our neighbours’ concerns were then about internal security, they are now increasingly about force projection. We were alone really as submarine owners back in the 1980s, now everybody owns a submarine in this area and is going to have about 50-60% of the world’s submarines over the course of the next 10-15 years.
The Russians used to talk about a thing called the ‘correlation of forces’ which was a dynamic international model much better than essentially static balance of power theories. The correlation of forces has shifted decisively against Australia. That process of shifting decisively against Australia will not stop. It will not be reversed. It will simply get more substantial in character as time goes by.
The US relationship was a bit of a decision of courage by us. Now it’s absolutely essential and our public has no understanding of how this relationship has changed. The joint facilities have changed their character. Still very significant but then in those days what we did with the joint facilities is we went for full knowledge and concurrence. We could describe, as Des Ball has, them rightly as the strategic essence of the relationship and they are still the strategic essence of the relationship.
Well those joint facilities now are seamlessly connected with Australian Defence capability. We are not spying on Americans, we are integral with them in not only the areas that concern them that are covered effectively by the joint facilities operations, but us. They are the first line of our information. They are critical to us and we work those systems. We are conscious of the fact that as these cover areas where other parts of the globe’s environment get incorporated within our defence concerns, we have an interest in a broader understanding of their value to us and that interest is best served by expanding the joint facilities.
When I was there, the joint facilities were expanded effectively by several locations and those mostly related to space, not entirely related to space situation awareness and all these functions are at the forefront of our minds. We are conscious that these are is an important bargaining chip on one hand and on the other hand a critical part of our own defence requirements. That is a vital component now of where we stand in relation to the United States.
On top of that, we have the situation of the type of equipment we require. Now I’ve already discussed the Third Offset Strategy, but what is that built on? Well I’ll tell you what it’s built on – we spend in US defence industry $13,000,000 a working day. The Embassy that I was responsible for had a task in its Defence section of managing over 400 foreign military sales programs and that’s by no means all the programs. They’re associated with defence industry in which we are involved, a very big slab of it.
Over on to the civilian side, they are now our principal investment partner to the tune of $1.3 trillion, our investment in the United States $600 billion, rising at the rate of about $20 billion a year. Most of that is portfolio investment so it’s superannuation funds. Increasingly, however, it is small and medium sized enterprises’ direct investment who understand if they situate a productive facility in the United States they can more readily access the US system on all sorts of fronts, civilian and military. And understanding that they’re increasingly getting engaged, an increasingly important role that the big American primes operating in this country perform is mentoring and they are mentoring large numbers now of Australian companies. Some of them they’re mentoring here, some of them they’re mentoring in the United States.
But as we shift to being producers of intelligent services and high technology manufactured product, this part of the process is what means that we can prosper. You cannot prosper with a nation’s market of 24 million people. We actually have to get an economy of scale and the only way we can do that really is with an association with the United States. Everybody else will pinch your intellectual property and that’s simply the fact of the matter. You can get sentimental about it but too bad, you just simply lose your property if you take that sentimentality to a point of producing something in an unprotected zone.
That $600 billion is probably about 10 times what we invest in China and that ain’t gonna change much as we sit down and contemplate where our future is going. So take a look at the totality of that, talking in Australian dollars. Brendan if you talk American dollars, it goes down to about $480 billion. I saw scepticism on the man’s face. So I will correct it for him. That is deep, deep engagement.
Normally when you use the expression “deep state” what you’re talking about is a quite evil process associated with dictatorships that mean that whatever the politics are that runs across the surface of a state, underneath it all is the real power that lies in the deep state which is usually a military/intelligence phalanx. Well we have a benign deep state and the people who are representative of that include many sitting in this room.
Thank God there are more of them than just you, but nevertheless it is an aspect of what you are because you are the people that comprehend what I have just been talking about. We have debates in this country on should we make choices between China and the United States, how do we do the outreach to Asia? All of that’s important, you must do those things. Diplomacy rules your day to day discourse and it must rule your day to day discourse but you need to understand that extraordinary ballast that exists underneath our deepest international engagement on every conceivable front. That’s what sits there and that is what actually drives the successful long term survival of our country.
I’m not going to talk about the contemporary state of American politics because it’d make you weep. And I was ready to leave after four years but the Liberals invited me to stick around for another two, and I wished they hadn’t removed me now because the America I knew is changing so fast.
Of course if Hillary wins we may in two years’ time be wondering what it is that we were all talking about and nothing much will have seemed to change.
If Trump wins it will be altogether a different matter. You need to understand this, that Trump, aside from on racial and religious issues – and that’s a very big aside from, I do concede that – but aside from those issues, Trump is running not only to the left of Hillary but to the left of Sanders. You need to understand that. He is running to the left of Sanders. He stands effectively for the collapse of America’s alliance system.
He intends to get at the Japanese and Koreans who already pay a huge amount to the Americans for their presence in those countries and are very substantial in their preparedness to develop their own defence forces. He is prepared to say to them double down or develop a nuclear weapon. Madness. But that’s what he says. Sanders doesn’t say the US should dismantle or threaten the alliance system in Asia or the alliance system in NATO. Trump says it. Trump says the time has come for them to understand that the US can afford it no more. Talk about making America great again! He is talking about driving America down into sort of state autarky and nothing else.
Then move over to an area of great American leadership and that is global free trade. Sanders doesn’t like that all that much and he doesn’t like the TPP so he agrees with Trump on not doing the TPP. But he doesn’t think it’s a smart idea to whack 45% on Mexican product coming into the United States or starting out on the Chinese at 45% as well and inducing a trade crisis of massive proportions in our region. Neither Sanders, and much less Clinton, is asking for that, and that’s where Trump is.
This is the most left wing position put forward by any leading figure in the United States since World War II basically, it’s so out of sorts with anything in the past. In the process too he’s done something that the Democrats have never been able to do though they sincerely wish they had the opportunity to do it, and that is at least temporarily destroy the Republican Party.
The Republican Party is the “national” party. A small n and in quotation marks. And what do I mean by that? Each country has a “national” party and when it moves away from that position, the country is demeaned and it becomes unanchored and ruthless.
The Republican Party was the “national” party. That means that they were the party devoted to global free trade. They were the party devoted to liberal internationalism. They were the party devoted to American leadership through alliance relationships and proper discourse with friends and colleagues and bringing them along in discussions with adversaries.That was the Republican Party.
Steadily over time the republicans have trashed their own base and they’ve introduced to their base the means of their own destruction. So I recollect before about 18 months ago sitting down Harley Barber who used to be the Governor of Mississippi and sometime Chairman of the Republican Party and he said to me what do you think of the Republicans? And I said I’ll tell you what, you’re now the party of the white American working class. You represent their social attitudes. The problem is you don’t represent their interests so you are doomed to disappoint them and at some point that disappointment will overflow into a populist revolt against you and your base will be destroyed.
Now I never thought it would be Trump who would be the person capable of doing that because one could not come across more of a mountebank in American politics than this particular character, but nevertheless he is the one who had the smarts and savvy about reality television and contemporary thinking of Americans that enabled him to exploit that sentiment. He can only exploit it temporarily for the campaign because he has no program. So at the end of it, all there is if he is elected is two years of an arbitral mess. In that mess some folk will investigate his background to see if he’s committed any impeachable offences and if they find them, some things may well change two or three years down the track.
But in those two years, the confidence of people in this country and many others, in the United States, will be destroyed. So there we are.
The question is, because I suddenly realised I’m going so far over time I’m testing the patience of you all, is he going to win? Is this the most likely outcome from this election campaign? Well I think that all depends on black swans. I, as a West Australian, love black swans. I see them as I drive along the freeway to go down to University every day and I keep away from them when one is on the riverbank because I recollect my youngest daughter being pursued by them at different points of time.
So I don’t find the expression in any way a suitable one to describe malevolent circumstance. But the Americans do. They use the expression black swans as an event which is game changing and horrific for the person whom it affects. And there are black swans that always circle the Clintons. They do like to handicap themselves. Whenever they go into an election campaign they’d be the ablest political couple maybe that the United States has ever produced, but they do it generally speaking running against themselves before they manage to get it together to run against somebody else. And of course she’s got the FBI sitting over her head and I just do not know what that will produce. One hopes that there’s political common sense in the FBI and if their investigations have not produced an indictable offence by now then it won’t, at least not of Hillary produce an indictable offence, but you never know.
And then there’s the American economy which is beginning to soften. Now will it soften substantially by the time of the election? One doesn’t know. And then there’s always the possibility of a terrifying terrorist attack and we do know that in terms of economic management and on management of national security the Republicans still have a hangover advantage that their candidate does not deserve. The Republican Party itself for this election campaign has got a lot of money. But Donald Trump hasn’t.
So let’s assume that the black swans don’t settle and that there is a course that seems to be the course that is now set; well if that occurs, Hillary will win. The thing that you’ve got is that Trump has appealed to the white working class, he has mobilised them. But it conceals some stats that you never hear.
See the Democrats and Republicans hold their primaries on the same day, mostly, not always, but mostly they hold them on the same day. Currently, well it’s over so it’s not just currently, this is the position. Trump certainly has polled the largest vote that a Republican candidate has ever polled. Sanders has polled the same and Hillary 3,000,000 more. So that 3,000,000 more is of an electorate that is approximately 20% of the ultimate American election and recollect that Obama won by 5,000,000 in an electorate four times the size. So Hillary is 3,000,000 ahead in an electorate about a quarter of which will ultimately vote. That’s an important thing to contemplate.
See many of the primaries are conducted by caucus and Sanders won most of the caucuses. But if it came to a vote in a primary state in which a normal election was conducted, Hillary cleaned up. Trump is crazy as a campaign prioritiser. He has put virtually nothing into Ohio, virtually no organisation, but is building up a massive organisation in New York. Why he’d want to do that when on the day of the New York primary true he got 550,000 against Kasich’s 230,000 and Cruise’s 140,000, but Sanders that day got 750,000 and Hillary got 1.3 million. So I don’t know what’s going on in his noggin but that is not suggestive to me of the likely fall of New York as a Democrat edifice. And this is his problem right around the country. He won’t declare his tax returns and he won’t declare them for two reasons. Either he pays no tax or he has no wealth and/or both, and the revelation of those tax returns would absolutely destroy his position. But when you have a fellow who says he’s as rich as Croesus and he’s out there asking for $100,000 to be able to participate in advertising in one particular state, you’ve got to say perhaps we’re dealing with a mirage of a candidate here. He cannot do without Republican money. He has to have that money in behind him or he cannot win and you can see that now one of the reasons why his polling is falling apart is that for the last three weeks Hillary has been battering him in purple states (those that could go either way) and he has not replied. Anti-Trump ad after anti-Trump ad. What she’s doing is insurance. She’s taking the purple states and she is defining Trump. She is defining Trump for the long term purposes of the election. Good time to go and Hillary apparently has plenty of dough and so there will be a lot her way I think.
Then there is the ethnic structure of the electorate. He is getting into the voting process folk who don’t normally vote. The white working class doesn’t normally vote, at least not in large numbers. Maybe they will on this occasion, but one thing we do know is a fact is the Hispanics now have 2,000,000 more people enrolled than they had last time and that previously, for George W. Bush to win he had 36% of the Hispanics. Romney to lose narrowly had 28% of the Hispanics. Currently, Trump has 10%. Now that is what comes into play in a general election. The Hispanics do vote and they are certainly going to vote where Mr Trump is concerned.
African Americans will probably vote in reasonable numbers, not as much as for Obama and Trump will do slightly better amongst African Americans. It would be impossible to do better from Hillary’s point of view than Obama who got 92 to 8, I would bet that Hillary would get about 80 to 20. There are some in the African American community who do take some note of things that Trump has said about the Hispanic community, some of whom agree with the general propositions that he has been putting forward in regard to that.
I think a lot will depend on women and the last election Obama got 60% of women but only 45% of married women. Now the question will be does she do better amongst married women. I would think yes and if she takes down the married women component voting Republicans from 55 to 50 it’s over. That move alone would finish off Trump. So this is a situation where one should not be without hope.
But there is another problem here. This is trust. On negative feelings around Trump and Hillary is a race to the bottom and whoever wins the race to the bottom loses the election. At the moment Trump is winning it and he is gaining distance. Whether that will desist all depends on the Republican convention, which is not looking good. None of my mates are turning up at it except one who intends to go there to abuse Trump and if he, he’s a Senator who’s decided not to stand again, and if he does so we’ll all hail him as a hero, but his chances of making it home are small and that’ll be a profile in courage, but that’s the sort of playing out of things.
I think that as I said we have an awful lot swinging on this. My view when you have a situation where a candidate may win who is electorally unsustainable in Australia and I think Trump is. If this happens, what I will find myself doing is my level best to defend the essence of the American alliance because that relates to our long term survival. This character may last four years, but he will certainly last no more and there will be a struggle to keep American relationships right across the globe. He will not help. None of the positions he is adopting will help. Folks say, and they’re very knowledgeable, that a President is not all powerful. For a President to do things he or she has to get the Congress on his or her side; all true, but a President has an enormous power to act destructively. It is very difficult for him to act positively, but very easy for him to act destructively. He can dismantle any of these alliance positions simply by activity off his own bat because these alliance positions relate heavily to confidence in the populations of the relevant alliance members and their confidence can be very readily disturbed. It will be an impossible year, or four years, for those of us in the deep state here in Australia. It’ll be very hard if Trump wins. That is why one would pray that the cup gets taken from us.
For the Navy, for our Navy, there’s so much at the centre of the rebalance which is essentially a maritime strategy. It is essential that we have over the next decade a seamless interaction with American industry with a capacity to enhance the platforms that we’re going to buy at enormous expense. Our ability to do that of course will be a project of 40/50 years standing, but the start we make up front in locking ourselves into the opportunity of accessing the new technologies and actually participating in the development of those technologies with our own people in the supply chain, that is going to be absolutely critical.
When we did defence self-reliance in the 1980s, we dismantled the Australian Defence industry of the day. They were Government-owned entities. They produced good things, but they were not things that kept us at the forefront of technology and what we deliberately sought to do was to bring in a plethora of primes to enhance the capacity of Australian industry to relate to the high technology in the end of Defence production, that was the strategy. That’s what we wanted to do. That problem has not gone away, it’s just a bit easier to do now than it was then, because we now have had a lot of experience of having that sort of access.
So we know those who love the Australian Navy, those who believe it’s vital to the effective long term defence of our approaches and of this country know that whatever happens in the American election we need to have the political underpinnings. For that conversation to continue in a seamless sort of way.
Now what applies to the Navy of course applies to the other services, but they’re not paying for this lecture, so they don’t get to have a mention but again, thank you for having me here.