ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

adfjournal.adc.edu.au

ISSUE 190 : Mar/Apr - 2013 - Australian Defence Force Journal

oth nations have Westminster-style parliamentary democracies, providing a shared politicalheritage, as well as strong military history links, not least relating to allied operations in PNGduring World War 2.In the contemporary context, Australia’s 2009 Defence White Paper articulated a ‘secureimmediate neighbourhood’ as one of its strategic interests, ranking only behind a ‘secureAustralia’ in degree of importance. 8 This will likely be reconfirmed in the 2013 Defence WhitePaper, as it was in the recently-released White Paper titled Australia in the Asian Century, whichasserted in its executive summary that ‘Australia’s future is irrevocably tied to the stability andsustainable security of our diverse region’. 9While there are many facets to the security of Australia’s near neighbourhood, two in particularshould draw the ADF’s attention, not only by their significance but, importantly, because theADF can actually do something about them. The first is preventing or mitigating the abilityof any regional state to conduct sustained military operations in Australia’s approaches. Thesecond, obviously closely related to the first, is helping to ensure the stability, prosperity andcohesion of Australia’s neighbours.While it could be argued that this is largely self evident, the theme was usefully restated inan April 2012 speech by the Parliamentary Secretary for Defence, Senator David Feeney, titled‘Papua New Guinea: Securing a Prosperous Future Domestic and Regional Security’. 10 In thatspeech, Senator Feeney also asserted that ‘stable, prosperous and cohesive near neighboursare less vulnerable to external influences that might be inimical to Australia’s interests’. 11Again, this is unexceptional. However, it reinforces the obvious reality that stable and cohesivenear-neighbours, which are prosperous and view Australia in friendly terms, are less likely tobe sympathetic to third parties seeking opportunities to establish or increase their militarypresence, including naval or other military basing rights. 12Some might argue that prospect seems unlikely in our immediate neighbourhood. However,China’s reported plans to secure naval basing rights in the Seychelles, as well as possiblefuture military basing in Sri Lanka and Pakistan are reminders that the possibility cannot bediscounted. 13 Others will recall that in 1997, China established a satellite tracking station inKiribati that was allegedly used to spy on the US Army’s missile range in the Marshall Islands,a key centre of operations for the development of the US ballistic missile defence system andthat, more broadly, China has—for a number of years—been bolstering its influence in theSouthwest Pacific, including through increased foreign aid activities. 14Beyond conventional security concerns are a range of non-traditional threats, such as people-,narcotics- and illegal weapons-smuggling. 15 It is widely recognised that stable, prosperousand well-governed states are far less conducive to the activities of international criminalsthan those that are not. 16 Given PNG’s close proximity to Australia, and the potential (andactual) use of the Torres Strait as a conduit for criminal activities, 17 it is clearly in Australia’sinterests to support the development within its immediate neighbourhood of an environmentthat deters the growth and sustainability of trans-national crime.What can we do?In assessing what can be done to contribute to the stability, prosperity and cohesion of ournearest neighbour, it axiomatic that the approach requires a whole-of-government strategy105

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