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Government names panel enlisted to prepare new defence white paper

Executive Director of Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings will help prepare Australia's next defence white paper.

Executive Director of Australian Strategic Policy Institute, Peter Jennings will help prepare Australia's next defence white paper. Photo: Jay Cronan

Two senior members of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute have been appointed to an expert panel to assist in the preparation of the next defence white paper.

Defence Minister Senator David Johnston made the announcement during a visit to CEA Technologies in Canberra on Thursday morning.

ASPI executive director, Peter Jennings, who played a key role in drafting the then Howard Government’s 2000 defence white paper, is to chair the panel.

He will be joined by Dr Andrew Davies, an expert on ADF capability and force structuring issues, who has been with ASPI since 2006.

Other members of the panel include Rear Admiral James Goldrick (retired), a former commandant of the Australian Defence College and the man chosen as ADFA’s acting commandant in the wake of the Skype affair; the University of NSW’s Alan Dupont, the Lowy Institute’s Rory Medcalf, KPMG partner Mike Kalms and Dr Stephan Fruhling of the Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

Senator Johnston said the formation of the expert panel was intended to make the new white paper, which will replace the 2013 white paper commissioned by former Defence Minister Stephen Smith, "credible".

That document was only released nine months ago.

Mr Jennings said "all defence white papers are inherently political documents’".

"On strategy the (2013) white paper welcomed China’s rise, urged more effective bilateral relations between Beijing and Washington and made muted noises about regional flash points.

"In the absence of credible policy on strategy, force structure or money, the only purpose of the 2013 (defence) white paper serves is a political one: to remove defence as a point of difference between the ALP and the Coalition in the lead up to the September 2014 election. That is a result both sides of politics are happy to accept… bipartisanship in this case masks a collective failure of Australian politics to close a structural gap between aspiration and money.’’

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