I for one applaud this new initiative. It's been way too long since the last paper and times have changed considerably. I'm hoping we don't buy the super hornets. I wouldn't mind a few "Raptors" in the hanger as well.
KEVIN Rudd and Joel Fitzgibbon are expected to chart a new direction for Australia's defence and security next week as work begins on a new defence white paper and another broad domestic security review.
The defence white paper will be the key document in a barrage of broad-ranging strategic policy reviews ordered by the Rudd Government.
They are expected to include new white papers on foreign policy and terrorism, a study on development assistance and a national security framework document.
The new defence white paper, expected to be finished later this year, will be the first since 2000 and the first to take account of the global threat posed by al-Qa'ida and its affiliates.
It will contain a comprehensive statement on the future structure of the 50,000-strong defence force as well as outlining global and regional threats.
The defence white paper will provide a strategic roadmap for the navy, army and air force, detailing likely security challenges Australia will face over the next generation.
Since he took over as Defence Minister, Mr Fitzgibbon has criticised the Howard government for ignoring strategic policy guidance in making new equipment decisions worth tens of billions of dollars, including last year's controversial $6.5 billion purchase of 24 Super Hornets for the RAAF.
Mr Fitzgibbon wants to bring more discipline to defence capability planning as Defence plans the introduction of costly new acquisitions, including the $16billion F-35 joint strike fighter from 2014, and lays the groundwork for a new generation of submarines from 2025.
The defence white paper team will be led by Mike Pezzullo, deputy secretary in the Defence Department assisted by an internal Defence Department team expected to include the army's deputy chief, Major-General John Cantwell, together with leading defence analyst Paul Dibb, as an external consultant.
Mr Fitzgibbon will also appoint a ministerial panel to oversee the white paper process, which is expected to include Peter Abigail and Mark Thomson from the Australian Strategic Policy Institute and Professor Ross Babbage from the Kokoda Foundation.
A separate review of Australia's domestic security arrangements including Labor's pledge to create a department of homeland security will be undertaken by former top defence bureaucrat, Ric Smith.
While the Prime Minister may choose not to honour Labor's pledge to create a department of homeland security, Mr Smith will make recommendations on ways of improving both border security and co-ordination between key domestic agencies including ASIO, the AFP, and Customs.
Mr Smith's review is due to be submitted to the Prime Minister by June 30.
An overall national security framework document, due to be completed by April, is being prepared by the Department of Prime Minister and Cabinet led by deputy secretary, Duncan Lewis.
Mr Rudd is yet to decide whether to commission an overarching national security strategy paper, which would complement the defence white paper process.