By Angela Dorizas
Prime Minister Kevin Rudd today announced Australia’s first national security adviser (NSA) during his inaugural national security statement to Parliament.
Former Australian Special Air Services commander Duncan Lewis has been appointed to coordinate the implementation of a whole-of-government approach to national security.
Mr Lewis has served in the Australian Army for more than 30 years, including three SAS tours, and was the Major General of the Australian Special Forces. In 2005 he was appointed First Assistant Secretary, followed by Deputy Secretary, of the National Security Division, within the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet.
Mr Lewis will continue to work within the Prime Minister’s department at an associate secretary level, consulting directly with agency and department heads.
Mr Rudd said the role of the NSA was to “provide improved strategic direction within the national security community; to support whole-of-government national security policy development and crisis response; and to promote a cohesive national security culture.”
"The NSA will be the source of advice to the Prime Minister on all policy matters relating to the security of the nation, and to oversee the implementation of all national security policy arrangements,” he said.
Mr Rudd said the inaugural national security statement, outlining the Government’s policy framework, would create a ‘secure, stronger and fairer’ Australia capable of addressing new security threats, economic challenges and climate change.
Included in the Statement were recommendations from the Smith Review into homeland and border security, which rejected the proposal to establish a Department of Homeland Security.
“Mr Smith’s advice is that big departments risk becoming less accountable, less agile, less adaptable and more inward-looking,” Mr Rudd said.
“What we need is the opposite. At the same time, Mr Smith has concluded that existing national security departments, agencies and capabilities do need better coordination.
“The Government has therefore concluded that the best solution for Australia is not another agency, but a new level of leadership, direction and coordination among the agencies we already have. We will therefore build on the existing community of relatively small, separate agencies, ensuring they remain nimble, accountable and above all, properly joined-up.”
Mr Rudd said the rise of India and the “most crucial” relationship between the US and China would be important factors in the strategic stability of the Asia Pacific region.
To address the political, economic and security concerns of this region, the Government proposed the development of an Asia-Pacific Community by 2020.
The Prime Minister also announced that the Government would release a Counter-Terrorism White Paper next year.
“Terrorism is likely to endure as a serious ongoing threat for the foreseeable future. Extremism leading to violence or terrorism continues to pose a direct threat to Australia and Australian security interests,” Mr Rudd said.
He said the national security statement provides the context for the Defence White Paper and regular Foreign Policy Statements, and will assist in the development of Australia’s first National Energy Security Assessment.
Mr Rudd called upon states and territories, the private sector and communities to partner with the Federal Government to enhance national security.
“Addressing the threats we face is clearly not a task for one agency, or any one government, acting in isolation,” he said.
“States and territories have a primary role in responding to many of the threats we face…there is scope for greater national collaboration in areas such as policing and emergency management.”
Opposition Leader Malcolm Turnbull criticised the Government’s national security statement for its lack of detail and direction, but supported the Government’s decision against establishing the department of homeland security, which he considered a “very poorly conceived idea, a cheap copy of an American experiment.”
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