Anxiety At Australia’s Home



Australia and its neighbours are facing attempts of taking control over their vital minerals.


Australia's geography and history are key to the understanding of our strategic situation. As a three Oceans nation: the Indian, the Pacific and the Southern Ocean, we endeavour great relationships, both with ASEAN and the Pacific Island countries.

For many decades we have had very strong and close economic relations with China - a comprehensive strategic partnership.

But we also have differences. Our cultures, societies, histories are different. We do not share our perspectives on many issues. These differences, however, have not prevented us from having that strong economic relationship.

The Indo-Pacific region for Australia, where we observe the shifts, is home. These regions are becoming increasingly contested and more anxious, like NATO countries.

For us, our traditional relationships, friendships and strategic partnerships with the United States, with many of the NATO countries and also obviously with ASEAN are very important as we face many challenges on the strategy front.

Australia confronts terrorism in our region and around the world as a part of the global coalition. New militarisation in our region means that we have to face new challenges in terms of emerging technologies.

Australia sees many threats, that arguably seek to erode the strength of our democracy

Like most countries, we realise that there are many incursions on our sovereignty that fall below that threshold of kinetic activities.

Australia has been very forward-leaning in terms of looking after our sovereign interests, and we see many things, that arguably seek to erode the strength of our democracy. It is everything from cyber-security, cyberattacks, potentially on our critical infrastructure, political parties. We see foreign interference with our political parties in our system, making use of social media. In terms of attempting to influence, public opinion in Australia. One way or the other.

Australia has also taken a very strong stance now, on foreign interference in our university sector, and in politics.

Concerning 5G, Australia has taken a very forward-leaning approach globally, but it is not focused on one specific nation. Our priorities are the protection and integrity of our 5G, as we move forward into our 5G networks.

We see very little if no difference between what is in the core of a 5G system, and the technologies that enhance and support it. We are taking very strong action, when our sovereign interest may be threatened by a decision or companies.

We introduced strict laws for foreign investment, but also we are looking at new challenges.

Challenges that other countries in Asia are also facing - that is on critical minerals.

The question is who controls and stockpiles critical minerals, that we all need for modern technology and renewable energy. There are many fronts to interfere very pervasively, so we are very alert to that. It is another method of interfering with the sovereignty of our nation and other nations in our region.



Hon. Linda Reynolds - Australia's Minister for Defence



This is a slightly edited transcript of the remarks at the Munich Security Conference on Feb 15, 2020.

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