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John Howard Speech To ASPI Global Forces Conference

This is Prime Minister John Howard’s speech to the Global Forces 2007 conference.

The conference was sponsored by ASPI, the Australian Strategic Policy Institute. It was held at Hyatt Hotel, Canberra.

  • Listen to Howard (22m)

Partial transcript of Prime Minister John Howard’s speech to the ASPI ‘Global Forces 2007’ conference.

Thank you very much Mr Stianos, Dr Nelson, Minister for Defence, Air Chief Marshal Angus Houston, the Chief of the Defence Force, Chief of the Navy, Chief of the Army, Mr Abigail General Clunies-Ross, ladies and gentlemen. I thank ASPI for the opportunity of presenting an overview of the Government’s take on our strategic look and also congratulate the organisation on the contribution it has made to a better informed debate on strategic policy since its formation three years ago. My main message today at the outset is a simple one, although the challenges I talk about are anything but. Well that message is that we do face a complex and challenging strategic environment but one that we believe we can face with confidence as the result of the Government’s national security policies.

The recent Budget provided $22 billion for defence – an increase of 10.6 per cent on the previous year and a 47 per cent increase in real terms over the levels of more than ten years ago. As a result we will have a larger, better-protected, more mobile and harder-hitting army which can be deployed more readily. A navy capable of establishing sea control in key areas and operating confidently within our region and an air combat capability, second to none, in our region.

The task is, however, a continuing one. We have committed to a 3 per cent real increase in annual defence spending out to the year 2016. These are very large sums of money and represent serious, long-term decisions about capability. But based on the latest strategic assessment of our intelligence agencies and the advice of our military experts, they are necessary.

I recently remarked to the Defence leadership group that the ADF’s current operational tempo is greater than at any time since the Vietnam war, but also that the complexity and global character of the security challenges we face, make them even more serious. No-one would claim to know precisely what our strategic future holds. But based on what we know now and on the analytical work of our intelligence community we can perhaps sketch some of its outlines.

Nation states will be challenged by terrorist organisations and other non-state entities. Most conflicts now involve non-state groups, which are becoming more and more adept at using and you foresaw it Tom… (transcript incomplete)

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