The Blue Paper Project

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Did You Know?

Defence White Paper

The Federal Government will release a Defence White Paper later this year which will have a major impact on the economic, political and military role Australia plays in the new millennium.

The alternatives before us are clear:

Australia can maintain its current aggressive "defence" philosophy, involving power projection, using its military strength for economic leverage, pursuing the high technology path with reliance on the United States for advanced systems and logistics support, increasing the militarisation of our society, and pushing the arms trade with a consequent rise in poverty, insecurity and conflict.

Alternatively, we can rethink what we mean by security, develop different relationships with regional states, reassess the weapons systems required to satisfy our security interests, develop conversion programs and increase aid to our regional neighbours.

The belief that security can be enforced by ever greater numbers of more sophisticated weapons is being increasingly questioned. More and more people understand that real security comes with jobs, steady food supplies, homes, clean water, warmth, education and health care, democracy and human rights.

Seventy per cent of the world's population lives in underdeveloped countries and face poverty and starvation. Over 500 million people have no job. The third world pays for first world extravagance with their lives and grinding poverty. No attempt to create a peaceful world can succeed unless these problems are confronted and resolved.

For the world as a whole, allocating up to ten per cent of global output for military purposes is madness. We can either continue the arms race or move toward more stable and balanced social and economic development within a more sustainable international economic and political order. We cannot do both.

Peace and community organisations have come together in the Blue Paper Project. We will release a series of fact sheets and discussion papers which are intended to educate, to encourage public discussion of these issues, and to develop understanding of and support for alternative views of our country's security and foreign policies.

A Better Path to Security

If Australia's security in the new millenium is to be secured, the Australian Government must adopt a foreign policy commitment to friendly and mutually beneficial relations with all countries, particularly with non-aligned and independent nations. This must be combined with an independent and non-aligned defence policy which will be efficient, affordable and genuinely serve the defence needs of our country and the need for peace and stability in our region.

While Australia's security is important, the cost to our economy, environment and political rights cannot be too high or we will have little or nothing left worth protecting. What point is there in devoting so many resources to defence if the very society we are trying to protect is seriously undermined by industrial and rural decline?

Our security cannot be enforced by ever greater numbers of weapons. Solving unemployment, poverty, homelessness, pollution of our environment and other reasons for social breakdown in our community is necessary for Australia's security. Military spending steals the resources needed to deal with these problems.

A key commitment will be for Australia to possess enough military force to defend our territory against likely military threats but not to have either the weapon systems or military doctrine to be able to threaten the territory of other states.

The new approach will include breaking the US alliance, removing the US bases on our soil, developing confidence building processes in our region, reducing the military budget, ending the arms trade, and conversion to peaceful purposes of military bases and production facilities.

Military Security

Security is often interpreted to mean military security -- the capacity to identify and meet perceived threats to a nation by military means, by the use or the threat of the use of force.

Australia's security can be enhanced even with a significantly reduced military budget.

A defensive defence policy is the best way to ensure our nation's military defence. This will take advantage of cheaper but efficient alternatives, contributing to national security without diminishing military capability. Defensive defence will generate funds for social, economic and environmental projects domestically and among our neighbours that will help build peace, confidence and security at home and in the Asia-Pacific region.

A key commitment in this new approach is for Australia not to possess more military force than is necessary to defend its territory against likely military threats. Australia's military capability and doctrines will be altered so that our country cannot threaten the territory of other states.

The hosting of Pine Gap and other United States' military facilities in Australia will end. Advances in satellite technology and data communications mean the need for such bases is rapidly decreasing. The facilities can therefore be relocated to their country of origin and the land returned to its original Aboriginal owners.

Foreign warships and military aircraft will no longer call at Australian ports and airfields or transit through Australian territorial space. The Australian Government will support efforts to achieve total prohibition of the production and possession of nuclear, biological and chemical weapons.

The Australian Government will work energetically for the establishment of nuclear-free zones, including Northeast Asian (including de-nuclearisation of the Korean peninsula) and Southeast Asian nuclear-free zones.

The government will ban the mining, processing and export of uranium so as to avoid any involvement in the spread of nuclear industries, which promote proliferation of nuclear weapons.

The government will strictly control the results of all research and development with application in the development, production or testing of any components of nuclear, space or any other mass-destruction weapon.

Australia will withdraw from and seek the dissolution of existing alliances and co-ordinate its foreign policies with those of the non-aligned movement. At the same time, the government will undertake a review of Australia's remaining colonial possessions.

The supply of military equipment, military training programs and military exercises with repressive regimes in the region will be ended. The government will end its efforts to encourage and expand arms transfers.

Australia's overseas sources of military equipment and the countries it allows to provide its forces with military training will be diversified.

Soci-political security

Australia's security will be enhanced by attention to social, political and humanitarian issues that affect the people of this country as well as in neighbouring states.

The Australian Government will respect the rights of all indigenous peoples and work for an end to all forms of racial, national, religious and political discrimination. Communal, inalienable title to land and the associated natural resources will be returned to Aboriginal communities.

Relations between Australia and other nations will be placed on a basis of equality, independence, non-interference and mutual benefit. Australia will contribute to developing mutually agreed steps to build trust and confidence between states and stronger mechanisms for the political settlement of international disputes and regional conflicts.

Australia will recognise, implement and co-operate with other nations to secure people's political, social and personal rights, including the right to life and liberty, the right to work, to freedom of opinion and expression, to freedom of assembly and association, and to a standard of living adequate for health and well-being. Such rights also include guarantees that no one shall be subjected to torture or to cruel, inhuman or degrading treatment or punishment or to arbitrary arrest, detention or exile.

Australia will work for the introduction of a new international information order.

Australia will observe internationally agreed steps to deal with refugees and displaced persons.

The Australian Government will work to make the United Nations a more democratic organisation. Possible steps include increasing the power of the General Assembly, possibly by abolishing or limiting the use of the veto, and establishing a parallel General Assembly of non-government organisations (without the power to take decisions).

Economic Security

The government will cut Australia's military budget - currently $30 million a day - by ten per cent.

By introducing a genuinely non-offensive defence policy, this funding cut can ensure Australia's security and at the same time produce a "peace dividend" - major financial resources for jobs, housing, education, health care, welfare services, environmental protection, transport and communications, culture and leisure.

Imaginative programs of arms conversion will be introduced. They will use many of the skills and resources at present tied up in military industry to create new jobs and produce socially useful and environmentally friendly products. Conversion can involve the transformation of our economy and society, bringing a new level of public accountability and democratisation of decision making.

The government will create meaningful jobs to help overcome unemployment and also to regenerate our environment. We will rebuild our rural economy. We will make companies accountable to prevent pollution of our land, air, rivers and seas. We will restore our failing health, education and welfare systems, instead of spending exorbitant sums on the military.

Australia's overseas aid policies will be changed, increasing the share of Gross Domestic Product allocated to the most needy countries.

Development policies will give priority to helping underdeveloped countries break out of their economic dependence and implement environmentally-sustainable development programs. Projects will be controlled by their recipients. The government will abolish restrictive conditions which specify that a proportion of the aid must be spent on Australian goods and services.

The Australian Government will support the elimination of the foreign debt problem. Australian trade, co-operation in the development of science and medicine, and educational and cultural exchanges will be expanded on the basis of equality and mutual benefit.

Non-Offensive Defence For Australian Security

A non-offensive defence policy is the best way to ensure our nation's security.

This will take advantage of cheaper but efficient alternatives, contributing to national security without diminishing military capability.

Non-offensive defence requires that armed forces and military postures should be (re)structured by simultaneously maximising their defensive and minimising their offensive capabilities.

A meaningful distinction can be made between offensive and defensive postures, strategies and tactics. This is not a distinction between offensive and defensive weapons, but between the nature of delivery systems and, more importantly, between postures and doctrines.

Non-offensive defence is intended to facilitate arms control and disarmament by eliminating one element in competitive arms build-ups, namely reciprocal fears. If a state's armaments are strictly defensive, they will constitute no threat to its adversaries.

Non-offensive defence strengthens peace and security by ruling out pre-emptive attacks and preventive wars. If a state can strengthen its defensive capabilities in times of crisis without posing an increased threat to other states, the vicious circle of competitive military escalation can be avoided.

Non-offensive defence provides effective, yet non-suicidal defence options.

Every state has an inalienable right to defend itself and it is preferable that this should be done without risking suicide or global conflagration. Eliminating this risk is also important since it could deter a state from defending itself at all.

Collective security may be an indispensable safeguard for many countries. However, collective security (and especially peace-making and peace enforcement missions) will require forces with substantial offensive capabilities. This dilemma can be resolved by ensuring that only multinational task forces are capable of offensives while the national components are not.

Non-offensive defence restructuring must be achieved without any arms build-up in order to be compatible with sustainable economic development. At best, non-offensive defence contributes to disarmament and so facilitates conversion from military to civilian production and resource consumption.

Non-offensive defence can generate funds for social, economic and environmental projects domestically and among our neighbours that will help build peace, confidence and security at home and in the Asia-Pacific region.


Non-offensive defence should be based on affordable low to medium technology as compared with the current high tech and expensive models being used by the Australian Government and encouraged, through arms transfers, in the Asia-Pacific region. Ideally, dependence on arms exports should be replaced by self-sufficiency.

Australia should develop a naval force suited to our needs and entirely within our budget. What we need most is a large fleet of very fast, heavily-armed vessels, capable of being swiftly relocated from one port to another so they are never collectively exposed to possible enemy action.

Non-offensive defence would permit a reduction in Australia's military budget, producing a "peace dividend" which would provide major financial resources to satisfy the needs of the people for jobs, housing, education, health care, welfare services, environmental protection, transport and communications, culture and leisure. For example, for the cost of one F/A 18 plane, seven schools for 1,000 children each could be built and equipped.

The US-Australia Military Alliance Skews Australia's Security Policy

The way to plan

The way to plan a defence system is to look at the threats which may come our way given the geo-political situation of Australia in world. Once the threats are assessed, then appropriate means should be taken to be prepared to meet them. Purchase of equipment should correspond with these 'threats'.

Threat assessment

The threats, which are sometimes claimed to come from "the north", are expressed as "teeming hordes wanting to invade us". The reality is quite the opposite.

The countries to our immediate north are poor and occupied by internal difficulties. They have neither the resources nor the desire to invade Australia.

The 1996 Defence White Paper argued that the threats Australia faces are from smuggling, small-scale terrorist attacks or hit and run exercises.

Both the major parties in Australian politics agree that these threats are not serious. Despite this, expenditure on the military continues to rise.

Our Geography

Another factor in assessing the possibility of threat or danger to our country is that our geography makes us a particularly safe place. Australia is a vast island and invasion of such a place is extremely difficult.

Only a well-resourced force, with excellent sea, land and air forces, and the ability to cope with long distances and climate zones, would be capable of invading Australia.

The logistics of such an event would be colossal. There is only one country in the world today which has such resources - the United States of America. At present there does not seem to be a desire from that quarter to attack us militarily.

What happens

Instead of responding to Australia's defence and security needs, Australia has developed a policy of projecting power in our region, buying long-range weapons delivery systems that threaten neighbouring countries rather than focussing on defending our continent.

Australia follows the power-projecting model because of the desire of successive Governments to be an attentive ally of the US in the Asia-Pacific region. The military equipment which Australia has at its disposal is designed to fight wars on foreign soil in co-operation with the US.



Because Australia is an island, the Navy plays a significant role in the protection of our country. External threats to Australia are largely small scale, such as poachers and "people smugglers". Yet the most recent major item purchased by the Navy has been the Collins class submarines which are extremely costly but little use against small fishing boats

The ANZAC frigates and maintenance of Australia's cruisers and destroyers are decisions which assist the formation of a naval battle group based around an aircraft carrier. The Australian Navy has no aircraft carriers but the United States does. Such battle formations serve US war-fighting interests but they do nothing for Australia's security.

Naval purchases made to meet Australia's real needs would see an increase in small, fast vessels with basic armaments. This has not happened.


The purchase of FA-18s by the Airforce was another decision made with an eye to foreign aggression in coalition with the USA

Even the PC Orions which were used so effectively to rescue yachtsmen in the southern ocean were purchased to search for Soviet submarines in the Southern Pacific in the cold war era.

The prospect of buying bombers to replace the F-111s reflects the dominance of those forces who want Australia to be the US deputy sheriff in the region.

The better alternative would be planes with a range of less than 2,000 kms, which can operate in remote areas, using basic airfields and maintenance. These planes would be genuinely defensive rather than offensive, and would help wind down the possibility of an arms race in the region.


Billions have been spent on Army equipment but the needs of soldiers have been neglected. The number of personnel has been cut to the extent that there were problems in providing enough people for service in East Timor. Behind this problem lies the reliance of the Government on high-tech weapons, which are extremely expensive.


Intelligence - reliable information - is essential for every state's security.

However, the collection of intelligence needed by Australia comes a poor second because of agreements with the US. The US controls what intelligence is collected and where it is distributed.

The intelligence needed by Australia would be cheap to obtain, yet the money spent to entice the US to share its secrets is massive.

It is also a matter of deep concern that US military facilities around the world have spied on their host countries for economic, political or industrial espionage reasons. It is impossible to believe that Pine Gap, Nurrungar and some of the other US military facilities on Australian soil have not spied on Australian political, diplomatic and economic communications.


Armed forces need to practice so they are ready for a variety of eventualities. However, Australia's participation in war games is less for Australian interests than for those of the US.

Australia's Department of Defence gives priority in its documents to exercises for "interoperability". This somewhat awkward word simply means that Australians train with the US military, learning to take orders from the US command and to do things the way the US military does.

This is not training for Australian needs but for callous US adventures such as the Gulf War or Kosovo.

UN needs

The Australian Government tends to translate "international" needs as the needs of the US instead of understanding it to mean co-operating with the United Nations in peace keeping and low-level police activities.

The resources and training provided for the ADF should be targetted to meet these kinds of contingencies. They should not be for aggression or "leverage", as Gareth Evans once called it.


Far from aiding Australia's position in the Asia-Pacific region, the US alliance hinders us and costs valuable trading opportunities and political contacts and influence. Australia is regarded as being too close to the US and too much a part of the Western alliance to be independent. Australia needs an independent, non-aligned foreign and military policy.

Basic Principles for Security for a New Australia in the New Millennium


The following policies and principles are the basis for a security/defence policy for Australia as we pass into the new millennium.

What is new and exciting would be the serious use of these ideas. In the past the desire to project power and be like 'the big boys' has ruled in the corridors of government and the inaccurately named Department of 'Defence.

Past policies have failed. Despite this, the Howard Government is again listening to those who have given the wrong advice to successive governments over the last 25 years.

Despite the record of failure, the Government still refuses to engage the community in the debate on security and military spending - the exorbitant commitment of over 10% of the government's income to the military.

Australia arms policy

Weapons of mass destruction

Small arms

Conventional weapons

Australia's Nuclear Reactor: Security Implications

The Australian coalition government announced it would build a new nuclear reactor at Lucas Heights in Sydney's south, and justified this decision by proclaiming it essential for the production of medical isotopes, for scientific research, and for national security.

Research that has been undertaken so far is of almost no value. The production of medical isotopes is best undertaken in facilities other than reactors. This leaves national security as the only plausible reason for the reactor's construction. The decision to build a new nuclear reactor then is justified on grounds of Australia's national security, military security.

How useful is a nuclear reactor for increasing national security?

The first main national security argument for Australia continuing to operate a nuclear reactor is that it assists Australian technicians in implementing International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA) safeguards regarding the production and use of fissile material in reactors around the world, hence helping to prevent proliferation of nuclear weapons.

Such training does not need to be undertaken in Australia. The information gained is so well known that the operation of a reactor is unnecessary to learn it. Nor does such work need to be done by Australian technicians. |

Have IAEA safeguards worked?

This is highly debatable. Israel, South Africa, India, Pakistan and North Korea have all developed nuclear weapons under the IAEA's nose, with almost no action being taken. Argentina and Brazil signed their own agreement forsaking nuclear weapons outside IAEA's auspices. Even Sweden kept a clandestine nuclear weapons program alive for decades without the knowledge of the IAEA.

Only in the case of the nuclear weapons programs of Iraq and North Korea has the IAEA acted. This makes the nature of the success of the IAEA all the more clear. The international community acts when there is the political will to do so, and not at any other time.

If Australia is to make the best contribution it can to halt the proliferation of nuclear weapons, then it must concentrate on generating and gathering political will to act. The best contribution Australia can make is the forswearing of nuclear technology that can lead to the production of nuclear weapons. Almost all nuclear reactor technology can aid in the development of nuclear weapons. No country can have an operational nuclear reactor and claim to be incapable of manufacturing them.

Australia needs to accept this fact. Australia needs to accept that denial of this fact is at the heart of the international community, from the IAEA down, and calls into question all efforts made thus far to prevent the proliferation of nuclear weapons. Nuclear reactors are part of the problem of nuclear weapons proliferation, not part of the solution.

The second argument that Foreign Affairs uses is that Australia maintains some influence over the nuclear industry by maintaining a permanent seat on the Board of Governors of the IAEA, and that to continue to do so requires running a nuclear reactor. What this boils down to is the assertion that things would be worse if we don't run a reactor.

What liabilities does a reactor in Australia bring?

Apart from the continued participation in a flawed regime, a nuclear reactor inevitably brings with it the knowledge that fissile material, the stuff of nuclear weapons, is being produced and stockpiled in Australia. Australia needs only a processing plant to complete the cycle of indigenous nuclear weapons production.

ANSTO is currently seeking a "conditioning" plant and has failed to explain how conditioning and reprocessing differ.

This leaves open the option of an Australian nuclear weapon, being developed with no outside technical expertise and delivered by weapons systems that we already possess (i.e. gravity bombs delivered by long-range bombers). These implications are inescapable with our current nuclear reactor and military structure.

Many have written in late 1999 that Australia has just seen what it means to be living in an unstable security environment. By this they mean the murderous and destructive withdrawal of the occupying Indonesian military from the emerging state of East Timor. They go on to point out the calls for autonomy and independence in other parts of Indonesia, many of which Australia has been actively involved in during the last 50 years (Aceh and West Papua in particular) as evidence of continuing instability.

What contribution are we going to make in this context? In particular, are we to keep open the option of threatening our neighbours with the possibility of an Australian nuclear weapon?

Australia has a unique opportunity before it.

By closing the current reactor, and not replacing it, and not building a "conditioning" or reprocessing plant, Australia can declare itself unequivocally free of nuclear weapons development.

This would send a clear and strong message to all those who wish to promote nuclear power and research and deny its dark side, the potential to develop nuclear weapons.

If Australia began to withdraw from such charades, and refused to continue living in this state of denial, other countries in our region and beyond would be encouraged to take similar action. This would be a measurable and lasting effect for peace in our region and beyond.