‘National security through economic sovereignty’: Albanese

James Riley
Editorial Director

New industrial policy coordination programs between Australia, the US and the United Kingdom would form a key component of AUKUS arrangements and drive the development of new industries, the Prime Minister Anthony Albanese told the National Press Club on Wednesday.

An announcement on the “optimal pathway” by which Australia will operate nuclear submarines through the AUKUS is expected in March.

AUKUS was as much about industrial development as it was about the acquisition of submarines, Mr Albanese said, and the unveiling of AUKUS plans would include coordinated efforts on industry policy.

Industry policy had been “a focus of all three governments” in the AUKUS discussions.

“I am very confident that when we announce what we have in mind, that people will see the benefit, not just for defence itself, but [also things advanced manufacturing],” he said.

“Yes, [AUKUS] is about our sovereign capability and about defence, but it is also about industry policy, about our economy, about jobs here.”

In a wide-ranging speech that left no doubt about just how intertwined Australian industry development has become with issues of defence and strategic interests, Mr Albanese said AUKUS represented a “whole-of-nation opportunity” to create new industries.

“We recognise that pursuing and defending our sovereign interests and contributing to regional stability requires us to build our sovereign defence capability, including advanced manufacturing,” he said.

“As [Deputy Prime Minister] Richard Marles has said national security demands a whole-of-nation effort.

“It also presents a whole-of-nation opportunity: for new jobs, new industries and new expertise in science and technology and cyber.”

Mr Albanese said the $15 billion National Reconstruction Fund (NRF) had a similar foundation in national security.

“The National Reconstruction Fund is about more than helping us produce things at short notice in times of crisis.”

“It’s about building a more resilient and more diversified economy, with more jobs in regional Australia. It’s about national security through economic sovereignty – our capacity to stand on our own two feet.”

The NRF would help to grow and create industries over the long-term, revitalising industries where Australia had traditional strengths, and also seeking out capability and capacity in entirely new industries.

Meanwhile, Mr Albanese will next week host a cybersecurity roundtable in Sydney with Home Affairs minister Clare O’Neil, bringing industry, civil society, security agencies and the public service to discuss “the shared imperative we all have to uplift our cyber security.”

“Our collective cyber capability is, of course, a critical asset for our national security. And, as if we needed a reminder, the data breaches of last year gave it to us,” he said. “It is vital to protect our economy, our businesses and our privacy,” he said.

“This will be another important step ahead of the delivery of our National Cyber Security Strategy later this year.”

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