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Hastie speech signals Opposition emphasis on national resilience

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the dual concepts of national resilience and self-reliance have gained increased attention from our national policymakers, with the era of great power competition heralding a major priority for Opposition defence spokesman, Andrew Hastie.

Since the COVID-19 pandemic, the dual concepts of national resilience and self-reliance have gained increased attention from our national policymakers, with the era of great power competition heralding a major priority for Opposition defence spokesman, Andrew Hastie.

National security and national resilience were two of the late senator and major general Jim Molan’s key legislative and policy priorities during his time in the Senate and were the inspiration behind his final book, Danger on our Doorstep.

Throughout this book, Molan painted a stark and confronting reminder of the challenges facing the post-Second World War order in light of mounting economic, political, and military antagonism and hostilities from the world’s rising superpower, the People’s Republic of China.


While Australia isn’t alone in facing these challenges, we are at the epicentre of this new global epoch-defining competition, requiring dramatically different ways of not only viewing our place and role in this new world, but equally how we thrive amid the challenges and opportunities presented.

Speaking to an assembled room of Liberal Party faithful in Queanbeyan for the inaugural Jim Molan Oration, the Opposition’s defence spokesman and retired SASR captain, Andrew Hastie, outlined the need for the nation to embrace new concepts in order to build national resilience and self-reliance in the face of mounting great power competition.

Mr Hastie said, “One of the primary themes of Jim’s work has been that of resilience and self-sufficiency. He argued that Australia lacks both. What did he mean by resilience and self-reliance?”

Unpacking these points, Hastie told the gathered audience, "By resilience, he meant the ability for Australia to take a hit such as the reduction or cessation of shipping due to international tensions or war. By self-reliance, he meant the ability of Australia to domestically manufacture the goods and services we need.

“Jim argued that our prosperity has come at the expense of our security, making us vulnerable to economic and strategic coercion. Our weakness has become provocative,” Hastie explained.

This in part echoes the thesis of US-based geostrategic analyst and author Peter Zeihan in his seminal work, The End of the World is Just the Beginning: Mapping the Collapse of Globalisation, in which he articulates, Bottom line: the world we know is eminently fragile. And that’s when it is working to design. Today’s economic landscape isn’t so much dependent upon as it is eminently addicted to American strategic and tactical overwatch. Remove the Americans, and long-haul shipping degrades from being the norm to being the exception. Remove mass consumption due to demographic collapses and the entire economic argument for mass integration collapses. One way or another, our ‘normal’ is going to end, and end soon.”

Hastie added, Our need for a reborn Australian manufacturing sector is now vital. Our sovereignty depends upon it, our allies and partners depend upon it ... We offer not tyranny, but liberty. Two liberties, in fact.

The liberty of distance. And the liberty of abundance. These two natural advantages, fostered by leadership and government support, could turn Australia into the innovative edge of the AUKUS enterprise. Build our resilience. Revive our sovereign industry. Lift our productivity and wages,” Hastie told the audience.

Going further to highlight the opportunities available to Australia, Hastie said, Australia sits at the edge of Chinese force projection, and so our geography and remoteness make us a place where partners can diversify their manufacturing and supply chains. If globalisation led to the offshoring of Australian manufacturing, then the new geopolitical disorder can bring it back home.

"Second, the liberty of abundance. We are a country richly endowed with natural resources. Our primary exports are iron-ore, coal, and gas. Most of those exports go to China. That’s no secret. But we also have an abundance of critical minerals and rare earths. And herein lies the opportunity: both critical minerals and rare earths are vital to many of the emerging AUKUS capabilities, as well as defence innovations of the future including missile guidance, satellites, and aircraft. There are also a myriad number of applications across the civil economy including automobiles and clean-energy industries.”

Unpacking this further, Hastie said, “We cannot continue with business as usual, with the same economic orthodoxy of the last 40 years and pretend that the market will take care of it. Jim’s grave assessment is that Australia has become weak. So how do we now play to our strengths?

"Governments need to be involved and support industry. The UK, US, Taiwan, Japan, and South Korea have vibrant industries because their governments have supported them through different incentives and direct support. They pick winners, and work closely with business and industry. And they aren’t squeamish about it. It’s a reality of the world we live in. We need to wake up to it.”

Finally, Hastie sought to highlight two central priorities for our future, stating, The message is clear: the great game is afoot. And the way to win is by rebuilding resilience and self-reliance. We need strategic leadership from government, business, and our partners to create these industries and value chains.”

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