In­tel­li­gence ex­pands to take on China and the new world order

As­sump­tions that in­formed Aus­tralia’s strate­gic plan are no longer cer­tain

The Weekend Australian - - INQUIRER - PA­TRICK WAL­TERS

Each morn­ing shortly af­ter 11am, Scott Mor­ri­son is handed a topse­cret in­tel­li­gence brief­ing pre­pared by the Of­fice of Na­tional As­sess­ments, Aus­tralia’s peak in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment agency. The Prime Min­is­ter re­ceives this care­fully dis­tilled sum­mary on a cus­tom-engi­neered iPad. There is no elec­tronic trans­mis­sion. In­stead, the de­vice is loaded each day at the ONA, de­liv­ered to the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice, then re­turned to the ONA to be pre­pared for the next day’s out­ing.

The clas­si­fied daily di­gest is a prac­tice in­sti­tuted by Mal­colm Turnbull fol­low­ing a rec­om­men­da­tion of last year’s In­de­pen­dent In­tel­li­gence Re­view. The former prime min­is­ter, an in­tel­li­gence scep­tic when he took of­fice in 2015, be­came, in the words of one close ob­server, some­thing of an “afi­cionado” when it came to the work of the Aus­tralian In­tel­li­gence Com­mu­nity and its six col­lec­tion and as­sess­ment agen­cies, par­tic­u­larly the hi-tech Aus­tralian Sig­nals Direc­torate. In the past, the ONA had de­clined to pro­vide a reg­u­lar daily brief for the Prime Min­is­ter’s of­fice, but this year the IT-savvy Turnbull in­sti­tuted a regime to his lik­ing, which Mor­ri­son has con­tin­ued.

In July last year, Turnbull also set in train the big­gest shake-up of our in­tel­li­gence realm in 40 years, a se­ries of re­forms Mor­ri­son will over­see. The over­haul comes at a time of un­prece­dented chal­lenges for the AIC. All six of the in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have to con­tend with the sheer speed of tech­no­log­i­cal change in cy­berspace as well as mon­i­tor­ing pro­found shifts un­der way in the in­ter­na­tional order.

Strains on the “rules-based global order” are manifest. Key as­sump­tions that in­formed re­cent govern­ment strate­gic pol­icy have been called into ques­tion, in­clud­ing the 2016 de­fence white pa­per’s confident as­ser­tion that the US would re­main the pre­em­i­nent global mil­i­tary power in­def­i­nitely.

There is now a con­sen­sus among the lead­ers of our in­tel­li­gence agen­cies that Aus­tralia’s strate­gic out­look is more un­cer­tain than at any time since 1942, when Aus­tralians feared mil­i­tary in­va­sion by Ja­pan. The shift in the US’s long-held strate­gic pre­dom­i­nance in East Asia and the emer­gence of China as a gen­uinely global power are dic­tat­ing a change in pri­or­i­ties among in­tel­li­gence-col­lec­tion agen­cies such as ASIO, which is mov­ing away from a hith­erto over­whelm­ing fo­cus on counter-ter­ror­ism.

This means a swing back to more tra­di­tional coun­teres­pi­onage work. For as­sess­ment agen­cies such as the ONA, it means greater re­sources be­ing de­voted to analysing re­gional de­vel­op­ments in North and South­east Asia and the South Pa­cific.

When our in­tel­li­gence chiefs look at the world to­day, they gen­er­ally nom­i­nate the “three Cs” — China, counter-ter­ror­ism and cy­berspace — as their fo­cus. While counter-ter­ror­ism re­mains a pri­or­ity, China’s rise, in­clud­ing

Aus­tralia’s strate­gic out­look is said to be more un­cer­tain than at any time since 1942

its grow­ing es­pi­onage and in­flu­ence op­er­a­tions in Aus­tralia, is draw­ing ever more at­ten­tion and re­sources. In­tel­li­gence sources say China has a keen in­ter­est in glean­ing Aus­tralia’s de­fence in­dus­try secrets.

The in­tel­lec­tual prop­erty of lo­cal com­pa­nies sup­ply­ing hitech equip­ment to the Aus­tralian De­fence Force is a prime target. In­for­ma­tion, in­clud­ing about lead­ing-edge tech­nolo­gies such as radar and broad-area sur­veil­lance sys­tems, is highly sought.

China’s es­pi­onage ef­forts in Aus­tralia are con­ducted on an “in­dus­trial level”, one top govern­ment of­fi­cial has said. In the cy­ber realm, care­fully tar­geted ef­forts are made con­tin­u­ally to pen­e­trate govern­ment, busi­ness, re­search cen­tres and higher ed­u­ca­tion com­puter net­works.

Bei­jing’s for­eign-in­flu­ence op­er­a­tions in Aus­tralia also have in­creased steadily in re­cent years, in­clud­ing a sharp fo­cus on the at­ti­tudes of the 160,000 Chi­nese stu­dents study­ing in Aus­tralia and a grow­ing sway over Chi­nese-lan­guage lo­cal me­dia out­lets. As one of Aus­tralia’s most ex­pe­ri­enced former in­tel­li­gence chiefs sums up, the China threat chal­lenges govern­ment in ways they haven’t been chal­lenged be-

fore: “It’s so per­sua­sive, so mul­ti­di­men­sional, so co-or­di­nated, so clever and so asym­met­ric.”

These evolv­ing threats come amid a tech­no­log­i­cal rev­o­lu­tion that is chang­ing the way our agen­cies op­er­ate. It re­quires the devel­op­ment of new ca­pa­bil­i­ties to sift through the vast and grow­ing dig­i­tal do­main to iden­tify un­usual ac­tiv­ity, sus­pi­cious trends and tiny nuggets of vi­tal in­for­ma­tion, and to mon­i­tor and com­bat cy­beres­pi­onage, hack­ing and on­line dis­rup­tion. Com­ing to grips with is­sues such as big data, bio­met­rics and sur­veil­lance tech­nol­ogy, en­cryp­tion, ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence and cy­ber se­cu­rity has al­ready had a sig­nif­i­cant im­pact on the way the AIC goes about its busi­ness, in­flu­enc­ing the cul­ture and prac­tice of in­tel­li­gence at the tac­ti­cal and op­er­a­tional level through to strate­gic as­sess­ment.

The col­lec­tion agen­cies, in­clud­ing the Aus­tralian Se­cret In­tel­li­gence Ser­vice, which re­mains heav­ily re­liant on gather­ing hu­man in­tel­li­gence from on-the­ground net­works of spies and sources, are mak­ing cru­cial in­vest­ments in data an­a­lyt­ics.

This shift­ing tech­no­log­i­cal fo­cus re­quires new lev­els of co-op­er­a­tion, which has not al­ways been a strong point of the in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity. Joint in­tel­li­gence cen­tres have emerged in key ar­eas such as cy­ber se­cu­rity and coun­teres­pi­onage, draw­ing on expertise from across the AIC as well as the pri­vate sec­tor. The sheer breadth of the cy­ber chal­lenge — from con­certed at­tacks on govern­ment com­puter net­works by state ac­tors to at­tacks on busi­nesses by crim­i­nal syn­di­cates — is forc­ing agen­cies such as the ASD, which covertly col­lects in­tel­li­gence by in­ter­cept­ing telecom­mu­ni­ca­tions and com­puter net­works — to un­der­take a cul­tural shift, dis­card­ing the cloak of se­crecy that has al­ways hid­den them from pub­lic view.

All of this has prompted the big­gest over­haul of our in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity since the height of the Cold War. In­ter­views with those in­side and out­side the AIC have helped to piece to­gether the mo­ti­va­tions be­hind the re­forms, as well as the po­ten­tial im­pacts, ben­e­fits and chal­lenges.

The main re­form con­sists of two ma­jor struc­tural changes to the cur­rent work­ing of the AIC: the cre­ation of a pow­er­ful new agency within the De­part­ment of the Prime Min­is­ter and Cabinet, the Of­fice of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence, and the es­tab­lish­ment of a broad-rang­ing De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs. The crit­i­cal ques­tion is whether the new ar­range­ments will en­able the de­liv­ery of bet­ter, more timely and more upto-date in­tel­li­gence that govern­ment can con­fi­dently act on. Will the re­forms make for a more se­cure Aus­tralia? In early 2016, a clas­si­fied re­port pre­pared jointly by ASIO and the ONA alerted the govern­ment to the ex­tent of clan­des­tine for­eign in­ter­fer­ence in the Aus­tralian body politic. Its fo­cus was China, and it opened Turnbull’s mind to the di­men­sions of Bei­jing’s es­pi­onage ef­forts. In May, ASIO di­rec­tor-gen­eral of se­cu­rity Dun­can Lewis told a Se­nate com­mit­tee that es­pi­onage and for­eign in­ter­fer­ence in Aus­tralian in­ter­ests was oc­cur­ring on “an un­prece­dented scale”. With­out re­fer­ring to China by name, Lewis told the com­mit­tee that for­eign ac­tors were at­tempt­ing covertly to “in­flu­ence and shape the views of mem­bers of the Aus­tralian pub­lic, the Aus­tralian me­dia, of­fi­cials in the Aus­tralian govern­ment and mem­bers of the di­as­pora com­mu­nity here”.

He said for­eign ac­tors from a range of coun­tries were seek­ing to ac­cess “priv­i­leged and/or clas­si­fied in­for­ma­tion on Aus­tralia’s al­liances and our part­ner­ships, our po­si­tion on in­ter­na­tional diplo­matic, eco­nomic and mil­i­tary is­sues, on our en­ergy, on our min­eral re­sources and our in­no­va­tions in sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy”.

These rev­e­la­tions came as Turnbull, in his early months in of­fice, ex­pressed un­hap­pi­ness about the ONA’s in­tel­li­gence re­ports and their lack of time­li­ness and rel­e­vance for pol­i­cy­mak­ers. Of par­tic­u­lar con­cern were the agency’s China as­sess­ments. The prime min­is­ter wanted a more in­depth un­der­stand­ing of the in­ter­nal dy­nam­ics and sys­temic risks of the Chi­nese econ­omy. “He felt he wasn’t learn­ing a lot more from the ONA than he could get from open sources,” ob­serves one se­nior govern­ment in­sider.

Turnbull also was con­cerned about the dif­fer­ing as­sess­ments he was get­ting from in­di­vid­ual agen­cies, and the loosely fed­er­ated AIC’s in­abil­ity to speak with one clear voice on over­all in­for­ma­tion-col­lec­tion pri­or­i­ties. Awak­en­ing govern­ment to the grow­ing threat of Chi­nese in­ter­fer­ence gen­er­ated hard ques­tions about our agen­cies’ ca­pac­ity to deal ef­fec­tively with the chal­lenge.

These con­cerns helped prompt Turnbull to com­mis­sion last year’s In­de­pen­dent In­tel­li­gence Re­view, con­ducted by two former top pub­lic ser­vants, Michael L’Es­trange and Stephen Mer­chant. It was the third and most im­por­tant in­tel­li­gence in­quiry since Robert Mars­den Hope’s land­mark 1977 Royal Com­mis­sion on In­tel­li­gence and Se­cu­rity. The re­view fol­lowed in­quiries con­ducted by Philip Flood in 2014 and Robert Cor­nall and Ru­fus Black in 2011. Flood rec­om­mended, and suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have ac­cepted, a re­quire­ment for pe­ri­odic in­de­pen­dent ex­am­i­na­tions of the AIC.

L’Es­trange and Mer­chant spent seven months con­duct­ing their re­view. In June last year, they de­liv­ered their re­port. They found that while the in­di­vid­ual in­tel­li­gence agen­cies were per­form­ing well, with high lev­els of pro­fes­sion­al­ism, there was a need for much stronger top-down di­rec­tion of the AIC, as there was in Aus­tralia’s two clos­est in­tel­li­gence part­ners, Bri­tain and the US. They ar­gued for more ef­fec­tive co-or­di­na­tion of the AIC, which led them to re­assess the role of the peak agency.

Now 40 years old, the ONA prides it­self on be­ing the only in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment agency in the world with statu­tory in­de­pen­dence. Its core man­date is to re­port and as­sess “in­ter­na­tional mat­ters that are of po­lit­i­cal, strate­gic or eco­nomic sig­nif­i­cance to Aus­tralia”. Last year’s re­view found that its re­ports were well in­formed and held in high re­gard by Aus­tralia’s Five Eyes in­tel­li­gence­shar­ing part­ners (the US, Bri­tain, Canada and New Zealand). But while ac­knowl­edg­ing the ONA’s highly skilled staff and achieve­ments, it noted: “We con­sider that its re­port­ing and as­sess­ments could be more di­rectly con­nected to the needs and re­quire­ments of pol­i­cy­mak­ing, par­tic­u­larly in re­la­tion to eco­nomic is­sues.”

But the re­view went much fur­ther than rec­om­mend­ing ways to ex­pand the breadth and depth of ONA’s as­sess­ments and its con­sul­ta­tions with ex­perts out­side govern­ment. It pro­posed an over­haul that fi­nally would im­ple­ment the vi­sion for proper co-or­di­na­tion within the AIC that was out­lined four decades ago by the Hope royal com­mis­sion. The re­view’s key rec­om­men­da­tion was to re­place the ONA with a new Of­fice of Na­tional In­tel­li­gence, also lo­cated in the prime min­is­ter’s port­fo­lio, which would pro­vide over­all pol­icy di­rec­tion and co-or­di­na­tion of the AIC.

On July 18 last year, Turnbull an­nounced the govern­ment had ac­cepted this rec­om­men­da­tion. At the same press con­fer­ence, he re­vealed the govern­ment’s land­mark de­ci­sion — which was not a rec­om­men­da­tion by the re­view and not within its re­mit: to es­tab- lish a pow­er­ful home af­fairs port­fo­lio, bring­ing do­mes­tic se­cu­rity agen­cies, in­clud­ing ASIO, un­der a sin­gle min­is­ter. These two de­ci­sions are driv­ing the big­gest struc­tural changes to the AIC since the re­forms that flowed from Hope.

Hope recog­nised the govern­ment needed a broader range of in­tel­li­gence sources be­yond the de­fence and do­mes­tic se­cu­rity spheres then dom­i­nated by the Joint In­tel­li­gence Or­gan­i­sa­tion, lo­cated in the De­fence De­part­ment, and ASIO. The set­ting up of the ONA, which re­ported di­rectly to the prime min­is­ter and con­ducted over­all co-or­di­na­tion of the for­eign in­tel­li­gence agen­cies, was the main re­form that fol­lowed.

Hope in­tended that the ONA even­tu­ally would be­come re­spon­si­ble for the over­all lead­er­ship and co-or­di­na­tion of the AIC, in­clud­ing over­see­ing na­tional in­tel­li­gence-col­lec­tion pri­or­i­ties, but suc­ces­sive gov­ern­ments have never given the or­gan­i­sa­tion (still only 150 strong) the nec­es­sary re­sources to do the job. With the global ex­pan­sion of the dig­i­tal realm fur­ther blur­ring the old dis­tinc­tions be­tween for­eign and dom- es­tic in­tel­li­gence col­lec­tion, Mer­chant and L’Es­trange con­cluded that the case for the AIC to be­come more in­te­grated, par­tic­u­larly in re­spect of tech­ni­cal ca­pa­bil­i­ties such as data an­a­lyt­ics and cy­ber tools, was com­pelling.

Next month the ONA will be re­placed by the ONI, with ONA chief Nick Warner be­com­ing its first di­rec­tor-gen­eral. The AIC will be­come the Na­tional In­tel­li­gence Com­mu­nity. Warner, a renowned diplo­matic trou­bleshooter, joined ONA when it opened its doors in Fe­bru­ary 1978 and led ASIS from 2009 to late last year. As di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the ONI, he will have di­rect ac­cess to the prime min­is­ter and to the heads of the other in­tel­li­gence agen­cies in the NIC.

The prin­ci­pal task for the ONI will be to over­see a greatly ex­panded in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity. The NIC will be com­posed of 10 or­gan­i­sa­tions: the orig­i­nal six that com­prise the AIC plus the in­tel­li­gence func­tions of the Aus­tralian Fed­eral Po­lice, the Home Af­fairs De­part­ment — prin­ci­pally the Aus­tralian Bor­der Force and the Of­fice of Trans­port Se­cu­rity — to­gether with the Aus­tralian Crim­i­nal In­tel­li­gence Com­mis­sion and the Aus­tralian Trans­ac­tion Re­ports and Anal­y­sis Cen­tre, the fi­nan­cial in­tel­li­gence agency. All these new­com­ers to the NIC are within the Home Af­fairs port­fo­lio.

Warner will lead an in­tel­li­gence realm con­sist­ing of more than 7000 peo­ple and with an an­nual bud­get now top­ping $2 bil­lion. It’s an am­bi­tious mis­sion. The ONI will over­see the pri­or­i­ties for in­tel­li­gence mis­sions, drive more ef­fi­cient spend­ing, im­prove data shar­ing, eval­u­ate the per­for­mance of all NIC agen­cies and plan in­vest­ment in new ca­pa­bil­i­ties such as col­lab­o­ra­tive ef­forts in data an­a­lyt­ics.

With 300 staff, the ONI will be dou­ble the size of the ONA. Its an­a­lyt­i­cal arm will in­crease to more than 100 area spe­cial­ists, and its Open Source Cen­tre, which col­lects pub­licly avail­able in­for­ma­tion from around the world, will have 40 peo­ple.

Crit­ics of the new ONI ar­chi­tec­ture ar­gue that in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ment — so in­te­gral to the cul­ture of the old ONA — is likely to take a back seat to the role of co­or­di­nat­ing the NIC. The risk is that the ONA’s tra­di­tional pri­or­ity of pro­vid­ing in­de­pen­dent strate­gic in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ments to govern­ment will be sub­sumed by the in­creased de­mands for cur­rent in­tel­li­gence brief­ings as well as by its ex­ten­sive new over­sight tasks. Some also be­lieve a hugely en­larged co-or­di­na­tion func­tion will be an un­nec­es­sary en­cum­brance for an in­tel­li­gence com­mu­nity that is al­ready more in­ter­twined and col­le­giate than at any time in its his­tory.

But the seam­less in­te­gra­tion of our in­tel­li­gence agen­cies into a gen­uinely na­tional en­ter­prise also could be threat­ened by a new be­he­moth. The De­part­ment of Home Af­fairs, which has 23,500 staff and a $3bn-plus bud­get, spans a vast range of agen­cies and ac­tiv­i­ties, from refugee pol­icy and counter-ter­ror­ism co-or­di­na­tion to cy­ber­crime and cus­toms and bor­der pro­tec­tion. It is a very wide brief. About 40 per cent of the en­larged NIC falls un­der the Home Af­fairs um­brella, in­clud­ing ASIO. The sec­re­tary, the hard-driv­ing, am­bi­tious Michael Pez­zullo, to­gether with his am­bi­tious port­fo­lio min­is­ter, Peter Dut­ton, will ex­ert a sig­nif­i­cant in­flu­ence on the de­part­ment’s agen­cies, in­clud­ing as­sign­ing spend­ing pri­or­i­ties.

Pez­zullo’s greatly en­larged do­main will in­ter­sect in sev­eral key ar­eas with Warner’s new co-or­di­na­tion role as Aus­tralia’s in­tel­li­gence supremo. Home Af­fairs has re­spon­si­bil­ity for counter-ter­ror­ism, cy­ber-se­cu­rity pol­icy and counter-for­eign in­ter­fer­ence. The sheer size of the port­fo­lio and its newly joined in­tel­li­gence agen­cies could drive a com­pe­ti­tion with the ONI for paramount in­flu­ence within the NIC. Much will de­pend on har­mo­nious work­ing re­la­tions be­tween the sec­re­tary of Home Af­fairs and the di­rec­tor-gen­eral of the ONI.

The fi­nal piece in the Coali­tion’s in­tel­li­gence re­struc­ture — no­tably, also not a rec­om­men­da­tion of last year’s re­view — was the shift of ASIO from the at- tor­ney-gen­eral’s do­main to Home Af­fairs. Be­fore he re­ceived the re­view’s find­ings, Turnbull had been per­suaded by Dut­ton and Pez­zullo of the mer­its of bring­ing the var­i­ous do­mes­tic se­cu­rity agen­cies into one port­fo­lio, along the lines of Bri­tish Home Of­fice.

Since ASIO was formed, soon af­ter World War II, amid fears about KGB spy­ing in Aus­tralia, it has resided in the at­tor­ney-gen­eral’s port­fo­lio. Like the ONA, it is a statu­tory au­thor­ity, with the in­de­pen­dence of its in­tel­li­gence as­sess­ments guar­an­teed un­der the Aus­tralian Se­cu­rity In­tel­li­gence Or­gan­i­sa­tion Act 1979. But the move to the Home Af­fairs port­fo­lio may well pro­duce di­vided loy­al­ties and con­strain the free­dom of ma­noeu­vre ASIO has tra­di­tion­ally en­joyed.

Of the six orig­i­nal AIC or­gan­i­sa­tions, ASIO has un­der­gone the most pro­found change since the turn of the cen­tury and the ad­vent of the global ter­ror­ism threat. It re­mains the only Aus­tralian in­tel­li­gence agency that per­forms both col­lec­tion and as­sess­ment func­tions. At the end of the Cold War, it was down­sized, de­rided and af­fected by poor morale. Now com­fort­ably en­sconced in its lav­ish head­quar­ters across Lake Bur­ley Grif­fin from the High Court, ASIO is rid­ing high and will cel­e­brate its 70th birth­day next year. It now has a lot more peo­ple (about 2000), a lot more money (the an­nual bud­get tops $500m), far more so­phis­ti­cated tech­nol­ogy and much greater in­ter­na­tional reach.

Since 2001, counter-ter­ror­ism has been its main fo­cus and swal­lowed the lion’s share of its re­sources. But now ASIO is com­ing back to its roots and deal­ing with a grow­ing threat that dom­i­nated its work­load dur­ing the Cold War: coun­teres­pi­onage. Here China and Rus­sia re­main at the top of the list of coun­tries try­ing to steal Aus­tralia’s secrets.

For nearly two decades our in­tel­li­gence agen­cies have been stretched by a very high op­er­a­tional tempo and in­creas­ing de­mands from govern­ment. While it is a mat­ter of de­bate in the com­mu­nity whether pol­i­cy­mak­ers have been get­ting the kind of as­sess­ments they need to in­form longer-term de­ci­sions af­fect­ing our se­cu­rity, it is unar­guable that our in­tel­li­gence has been crit­i­cal to the suc­cess of Aus­tralia’s counter-ter­ror­ism re­sponse and farflung mil­i­tary op­er­a­tions.

The AIC has ex­erted a pow­er­ful sway over min­is­ters for years, grow­ing rapidly and re­ceiv­ing ex­traor­di­nar­ily gen­er­ous fund­ing, that is the envy of other arms of govern­ment. The role of the De­part­ment of For­eign Af­fairs and Trade, tra­di­tion­ally a vi­tal source of in­tel­li­gence, has been pro­gres­sively di­min­ished and its diplo­matic foot­print in ar­eas of vi­tal in­ter­est to Aus­tralia re­duced. A strong case can be made for in­creas­ing the in­vest­ment in our diplo­matic ser­vice rather than dis­pens­ing ever more fund­ing for in­tel­li­gence gather­ing.

Se­nior in­tel­li­gence sources ac­knowl­edge that the broad sweep of se­cu­rity chal­lenges posed by state-spon­sored cy­ber threats and China’s seem­ingly in­ex­orable rise re­main for­mi­da­ble. It will be cru­cial to shape the AIC to ad­dress these changes. The crit­i­cal test of the Coali­tion’s over­haul will be whether the new NIC, led by the ONI, will pro­duce en­hanced strate­gic anal­y­sis and a su­pe­rior flow of in­tel­li­gence to govern­ment. The Home Af­fairs De­part­ment’s abil­ity to over­see its en­larged in­tel­li­gence realm, and to avoid in­ter­nal fric­tion, also will be cru­cial.

Forty years ago, Hope stressed the re­quire­ment for Aus­tralia to have its own in­tel­li­gence-as­sess­ment and col­lec­tion ca­pa­bil­i­ties. He urged the govern­ment to con­tin­u­ally scru­ti­nise the ben­e­fits against the costs to Aus­tralia from its in­tel­li­gence part­ner­ships with other coun­tries.

If our in­tel­li­gence chiefs are right, the com­ing decades will bring the emer­gence of a broader and more com­plex ar­ray of na­tional se­cu­rity threats. Tech­no­log­i­cal ad­vances will pose new risks, as will the chang­ing power bal­ance in the Asia-Pa­cific and the un­pre­dictable con­se­quences of cli­mate change. As we en­ter a new age of strate­gic anx­i­ety, pol­i­cy­mak­ers will de­mand not only good in­tel­li­gence and adroit diplo­macy but also a greater level of self-re­liance.

Our na­tional ca­pa­bil­i­ties, rang­ing from for­eign in­tel­li­gence op­er­a­tions to more per­va­sive sur­veil­lance tech­nolo­gies, will nec­es­sar­ily keep ex­pand­ing, but so will the chal­lenges, as the fo­cus shifts to the new order emerg­ing in Aus­tralia’s re­gion. Pa­trick Wal­ters is ex­ec­u­tive ed­i­tor of The Strate­gist at the Aus­tralian Strate­gic Pol­icy In­sti­tute. This is an edited ex­tract from his es­say in the lat­est is­sue of Aus­tralian For­eign Af­fairs, out on Mon­day.

‘(Turnbull) felt he wasn’t learn­ing a lot more from the ONA than he could get from open sources’


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