Today I am proud to launch both the 2022 Defence Information and Communications Technology Strategy and the Defence Cyber Security Strategy.

The Defence Information and Communications Technology Strategy sets out Defence’s vision for delivering mission-capable information ICT.

The Defence Cyber Security Strategy outlines how Defence is working to enhance cyber security across its entire ICT ecosystem – including by working more closely with industry partners.

We are releasing the two strategies together because cyber security and ICT capability go hand-in-hand.

For Defence to be able to fight and win in the Digital Age , we need to fully integrate our ICT services and our cyber security – and to achieve that, we need the expertise and experience of industry and academia.

Defence is not just a procurer of technology.

It is a creator and a maker and a developer of sovereign capability.

To do what we need, at the speed we need, at the scale we need, Defence needs to build genuine partnerships with organisations, large and small, that have the expertise and skills to innovate.

Simply adopting the newest technologies alone will not deliver a capability edge.

Instead, we need to evolve the environment in which technology operates, harden its protection, and at the same time, maximise how we manage our people, processes and systems within it.

That is what these strategies are designed to do.

Friends, this distinguished audience well understands that Australia is facing its toughest strategic environment in over 75 years.

Within our Indo-Pacific region, uncertainty is growing.

China’s military build-up is now the largest and most ambitious we have seen by any country since the end of the Second World War.

Australia’s military capability edge is under challenge.

And grey-zone coercion is blurring the line between peace and conflict.

The implications are clear.

We no can longer assume ten years of strategic warning time for major conflict. 

So our approach to readiness must change.

We need to think harder about the security of our strategic geography.

So our military planning must clearly prioritise Australia’s immediate region.

We need new long-range strike and area denial weapons towards deterrent effects. 

And we need new options to counter grey-zone coercion. 

So we must accelerate building a more potent and diversified ADF ready for this decade.

While Labor strongly supported the 2020 Defence Strategic Update, we have deep reservations about the former Government’s force structure plan.

That’s why the Prime Minister has acted decisively and initiated the Defence Strategic Review.

This review will be independent, akin to Paul Dibb’s seminal 1980s work. 

Professor Stephen Smith and Sir Angus Houston have been tasked to critically assess our force structure, force posture and preparedness, as well as prioritisation in the Integrated Investment Program.

These security challenges include cyber threats.

While the use of information in warfare is as old as warfare itself, cyberspace has made it easier, faster and more effective for information warfare threats to operate on a large scale.

As cyberspace is challenging our concepts of how we will fight in any future conflict, the ADF must remain competitive in the information environment.

This will be an important element of the Review’s considerations and recommendations.

The upshot is that both the Defence ICT and Cyber Security Strategies will be responsive to, and informed by, the outcomes of the Review.

This will ensure that as the Strategies are implemented, they remain relevant and responsive as the future shape of Defence is decided.

Engagement with a wide range of stakeholders is taking place as part of the Review, and interested parties are invited to make submissions regarding the Review for consideration by the Independent Leads.

I encourage you to take a look at the Terms of Reference on the Defence website and consider making an online submission.

They will report next March.


Excerpt from speech by the Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP, read the full speech here