13 Mar 2002
OFFICIAL LAUNCH OF NEW STRATEGIC INSTITUTE
The Minister for Defence, Sen the Hon Robert Hill tonight officially launched the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) at the Anzac Hall, Australian War Memorial.
ASPI has been set up by the Government as an independent centre of research on strategic and defence policy. Its role is to promote Australia's security by contributing fresh ideas to Government strategic decision-making, and by helping to inform public discussion of strategic and defence issues.
In his opening remarks Professor Robert O'Neill, the Chairman of the ASPI Council, drew on the venue of the launch to remind the audience that Australia has been no stranger to conflict over the last hundred years, whether from defending against direct attack or offering support for the rule of international law to re-establish peace.
"We have not always got it right in our past policies and commitments. Australia and Australians have suffered for these shortcomings and many others over the past hundred years. One common element in these errors of judgement was a lack of objective analysis and unfettered, open debate at the level of strategic policy making by the federal government. They were compounded by a public opinion which was sometimes ignorant and sometimes apathetic."
ASPI's objective is to become the Government's major source of information, analysis and proposals on strategic policy issues outside the ADF and the Public Service, and as such, a major influence on Government decision making.
The Institute aims to become one of the most authoritative and widely quoted contributors to public discussion of strategic policy issues in Australia and a recognised and authoritative Australian voice in international discussion of strategic issues, especially in the Asia-Pacific.
The Director of ASPI, Mr Hugh White, said that ASPI's work will cover the whole range of defence and strategic policy issues currently facing Government: strategic and international, operations and capability, and budget and management.
"Australia needs to rethink our strategic relationship with Indonesia. We need to shape a bilateral defence and security relationship with the newly independent East Timor. We face major force-structure decisions on such key issues such as the future of our air combat force and the shape of our surface fleet.
"There are also big questions to be addressed about the way we fund and support our forces. We need to ensure that capability is delivered as cost effectively as possible, and as quickly as possible. ASPI will have a major contribution to make on all these issues."
Further information about ASPI, including its research and publication program, is available from its web-site at: http://www.aspi.org.au
Media contact: Ms Janice Johnson 6270 5109
Senator Hill's speech is available from his office.
Phone + 61 6270 5100 Fax + 61 2 6273 9566 www.aspi.org.au ACN 097 369 045
Date: Wednesday, 13 March 2002
By: Australian Strategic Policy Institute