More than just boats, AUKUS is about security, resilience

November 28, 2022 | The Australian

By TICKY FULLERTON
EDITOR-AT-LARGE,  THE AUSTRALIAN BUSINESS REVIEW

In a fragile world, AUKUS, the Australia-UK-US alliance, is the path to Australian resilience.

Make no mistake, AUKUS, signed in September last year, is not just about submarines. In the fullness of time, some policy experts believe it may not be about submarines at all.

AUKUS presents three countries with an opportunity to reset their national security. It is across defence, yes, but it is also about broader intelligence, industry supply chain resilience, advanced manufacturing and exports, innovation, knowledge exchange and mobility.

It is the Three Amigos on friend shoring. It is the Three Eyes, not Five Eyes, in intelligence. And this is why the French are so exercised about AUKUS. President Macron has a genuine fear of missing out.

In a new report, “Maximising Australia’s AUKUS Opportunity”, PwC has joined forces with the Australian British Chamber of Commerce and the American Chamber of Commerce to consult with their prize corporate stakeholders and other research institutions.

These are companies such as BAE, Boeing, Verizon and Jaguar Land Rover.

Presented to Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles in Canberra on Tuesday, the report makes it clear business believes AUKUS can be activated to build out supply chains for Australia, value-add in critical minerals and gain more expertise in quantum and cyber. It stresses AUKUS is not a military alliance. It is a security alliance.

“AUKUS is a deepening of the existing trilateral relationship and does not bind Australia to any formal legal, political or military obligations as Australia’s ANZUS Treaty with the US and New Zealand does,” the report states.

“It both streamlines and formalises what has long existed between the security and industrial bases of the UK, US and Australia.”

This thinking aligns with the quest for resilience Treasurer Jim Chalmers spoke about at The Australian’s Critical Minerals Summit last week. “Right now, the world is getting a reminder in real time of the costs and consequences of over-relying on a substantial supplier of a critical resource,” he said.

The Treasurer spoke of the “economic case of going all-in” on critical minerals to bring industrial strength and long-term prosperity.

Resilience has been a consistent message from the new government since the Prime Minister set out priorities at the Quad meeting in May.

Within defence, the report identifies the larger US and UK markets as a significant opportunity, but notes AUKUS will struggle without targeted immigration. It poses for discussion a special AUKUS visa, expedited defence industry clearance, a fast lane for AUKUS-related procurement and a refresh of “broader benefits to the economy” rules. Like mining, innovation in defence has powerful application across industry.

AUKUS offers a technology-sharing agreement that needs to be better understood in the public arena.

Australians should not have to wait for submarines. An AUKUS office, our own joint agency with the US and UK to which a new generation of tech talent can apply, would be a first step. An AUKUS visa would supercharge the agreement and help fill the skills gap.

Click here to read the article in The Australian 

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