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Morrison says AUKUS will strengthen cooperation on critical technologies

Posted By on November 17, 2021 @ 06:00

Australia’s Prime Minister Scott Morrison has used a keynote address at ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue [1] to add important detail to what’s known about Australia’s AUKUS agreement with the United States and Britain.

In his speech delivered online today, the prime minister makes it clear that AUKUS is intended to enable the three allies to develop and share advanced technology to give them an edge in an uncertain future.

‘AUKUS is a broad and adaptable partnership that will drive our technology and capability cooperation to meet the challenges of the 21st century in the Indo-Pacific region,’ he says.

‘Our trilateral efforts in AUKUS will enhance our joint capabilities and interoperability, with an initial focus on cyber capabilities, artificial intelligence, quantum technologies and additional undersea capabilities.’

Morrison says nations at the leading edge of technology have greater economic, political and military power and greater capacity to influence the norms and values that will shape technological development in the years to come. Nowhere is this more powerfully illustrated than in the Indo-Pacific region, which Morrison says is the world’s strategic centre of gravity.

The agreement is about much more than nuclear submarines, Morrison says. ‘AUKUS will see Australia, the United Kingdom and the US promote deeper information sharing, foster greater integration of security- and defence-related science, technology, industrial bases and supply chains, and strengthen our cooperation in advanced and critical technologies and capabilities.’

Morrison used the event to release a ‘blueprint for critical technologies’ designed to balance the economic opportunities of critical technologies with their national security risks.

Its goals are to:

  • ensure Australia has access to, and choice in, critical technologies and systems that are secure, reliable and cost-effective
  • promote Australia as a trusted and secure partner for investment, research, innovation, collaboration and adoption of critical technologies
  • maintain the integrity of research, science, ideas, information and capabilities so that local industries can thrive and maximise sovereign intellectual property
  • support regional resilience and shape an international environment that enables open, diverse and competitive markets and secure and trusted technological innovation.

At the event conceived by ASPI’s International Cyber Policy Centre, the prime minister notes that ASPI has written [2] perceptively: ‘The real potential of AUKUS lies in how the new grouping can be leveraged in the long term to help Australia deal with the profound technological disruption about to sweep the world.’

He says officials will soon report back to leaders with a proposed AUKUS work plan involving exchanges of information, personnel, and advanced technologies and capabilities; joint planning; capability development and acquisitions; collaboration in science and technology; and development of common and complementary security- and defence-related science and industrial bases.

Morrison says Australia is also deepening its technology relationships with its Quad partners, India, Japan and the US, to develop resilient supply chains and foster an open, accessible and secure technology ecosystem. That will include development of advanced communications and harnessing artificial intelligence, deploying and diversifying 5G technology, and ‘horizon scanning’ for advanced ideas and ways to bolster critical infrastructure resilience against cyber threats.

He will be joined at the dialogue by India’s Prime Minister Narendra Modi, Japan’s former prime minister Shinzo Abe, and former Australian prime minister John Howard.

Morrison says there’s much to be done with India in this area under the Quad partnership and the two countries are already cooperating on cybersecurity, critical and emerging technologies, critical minerals, the digital economy, and much more. There will be an immediate focus on supplies of semiconductors and their vital components, and on exploring opportunities for cooperation on advanced biotechnologies.

The Office of Supply Chain Resilience is working to ensure access to essential goods. ‘As a country of around 25 million people in a world of some 7.8 billion people, most of our technology is, and will continue to be, imported,’ Morrison says.

With the blueprint comes a critical technologies list to signal to governments, industry and academia the technologies slated as critical for Australia today and those expected to become so within the next decade.

There are 63 critical technologies on the list, with an initial focus on nine, says Morrison.

A key one is quantum technologies, applying quantum physics to explore ways to acquire, transmit and process vast quantities of information. ‘Quantum science and technology has the potential to revolutionise a whole range of industries, including finance, communications, energy, health, agriculture, manufacturing, transport and mining,’ Morrison says.

‘Quantum sensors, for example, could improve the discovery of valuable ore deposits and make groundwater monitoring more efficient; and quantum communications could provide for secure exchange of information to better secure financial transactions.

‘Quantum technologies will also have major defence applications, as in enabling navigation in GPS‑denied environments and helping to protect Australia from advanced cyberattacks.’

Morrison says Australia is already a global leader in several areas of quantum technology, and that needs to be taken to the next level.

Chief Scientist Cathy Foley will lead the development of a national quantum strategy to better integrate industry and government activities, building on the recommendations of CSIRO’s quantum technology roadmap [3]. She will chair a national committee on quantum with commercial, research and national-security expertise.

The government will invest $70 million over the next decade in a quantum commercialisation hub to guide this research into global markets and supply chains. The first step is an agreement with the US, and more will come with other nations.

‘We cannot shy away from the ethical implications of new technologies,’ Morrison says. ‘We need to be asking ourselves what should be done with technology, not just what can be done.’

In the face of great challenges, Morrison says, Australia’s goals are clear: ‘to uphold our liberal democratic traditions, to keep Australia prosperous and to keep it strong and safe’.

Article printed from The Strategist: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au

URL to article: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/morrison-says-aukus-will-strengthen-cooperation-on-critical-technologies/

URLs in this post:

[1] ASPI’s Sydney Dialogue: https://tsd.aspi.org.au/

[2] ASPI has written: https://www.aspistrategist.org.au/the-real-potential-of-aukus-is-about-far-more-than-submarines/

[3] CSIRO’s quantum technology roadmap: https://www.csiro.au/en/work-with-us/services/consultancy-strategic-advice-services/csiro-futures/futures-reports/quantum

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