Report urges security decision overhaul

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A new report has called for an overhaul in how key national security decisions are made due to the rapid changes in the space.

The analysis paper released by the Lowy Institute urges a more overarching strategic approach in the wake of new threats.

Cabinet’s national security committee has been advised to carry out more discrete assessments of national security matters more often in order to consider all aspects of issues.

The report’s author, former senior intelligence analyst Ben Scott, said Australia has often been forced to respond quickly to emerging security threats due to the fast changes in the environment.

“The blurring of old distinctions between security, economics, development and technology is a recurring theme of the new geopolitics,” Mr Scott said.

“Australia should seek to improve the quality of its decision making by following through on its history of imposing more structure on national security decision making.”

While the report doesn’t call for an overhaul of the national security framework, it does recommend changes to how decisions are made.

“The growing complexity of Australia’s national security environment increases the risk of getting decisions wrong,” Mr Scott said.

“This would enable the separate consideration of Australia’s long term strategic goals when critical decisions are made.”

The report said a new strategy would help not only to guide policymakers, but also improve the quality of decisions being made on national security.

“Global disorder and China’s rise are creating a more complex and competitive national security environment that will present governments with tougher choices and more of them,” the report said.

Decisions such as banning Chinese firm Huawei from the country’s 5G network or setting up the AUKUS alliance to obtain future nuclear-powered submarines were among the examples listed in the report of where greater national security assessments could be made.

The institute’s director of research Herve Lemahieu said the strategic environment meant changes in decision-making processes needed to be examined.

“(The) research provides a meaningful starting point for the relatively new Albanese government to deconstruct Australia’s security dilemmas and to sharpen the prosecution of critical national security decisions in the years ahead,” he said.


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