New inquiry – space-based Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance, maintenance of Defence Estate, and workforce

House of Representatives

The Defence Sub-committee of the Joint Standing Committee on Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade is conducting a new inquiry, focussing on important aspects of the most recent Annual Report of the Department of Defence including space based intelligence and cyberspace warfare.

Chair of the Sub-committee, Mr Andrew Wallace MP, explained that ‘as part of the regular oversight role of the committee, we are taking the opportunity to review aspects of the latest Annual Report. Such inquiries allow the Parliament to get a temperature check on an agency, and as part of this process, we generally aim to ‘drill down’ into topical focus areas in more detail.’

‘The Sub-committee has already held a public hearing with senior Defence officials, which was informative and thought-provoking, both on these timely areas, and on broader issues,’ Mr Wallace said.

The Sub-committee is now inviting written submissions, by 4 August, on any of the following four focus areas:

· Space based intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance (ISR)

· Cyberspace warfare

· Defence estate in north and northwestern Australia

· Defence workforce

Space-based ISR

High-quality ISR is essential to government and military decision making. Space-based ISR is becoming both increasingly complex and increasingly critical as an input to the real-time and near-real-time ISR picture required by government and government agencies.

The Sub-committee is interested in the current state of Australian space-based ISR capabilities, its adequacy in the current geo-strategic environment, and what is and should be planned for future Australian space-based ISR.

Cyberspace warfare

Cyber warfare is increasingly the domain in which both ‘grey zone’ operations and the first offensive actions of conflict are likely to take place. In highly networked societies, governments, and militaries, the security and survivability of ICT systems and associated networks is a significant potential vulnerability.

The Sub-committee is interested in the current state of Australian defensive and offensive cyber warfare capabilities.

Defence Estate in north and northwestern Australia

Defence has the most extensive land and property holdings in Australia, with over $28.2 billion of buildings and infrastructure including large training areas and bases close to the coastline, and environmental stewardship for over 3.5 million hectares of land in Australia.

The Sub-committee is interested in the current state of Defence estate in Northern Australia, with respect to its development, maintenance, and capability.

Defence Workforce

The Committee acknowledges that the Defence Workforce is a potentially enormous area for investigation, with many interrelated threads, but it believes there is merit in looking at some broad themes, potentially for future inquiry.

The Sub-committee is interested in hearing views about recruitment, retention, family matters and the reserve workforce.

As an inquiry into an Annual Report, potentially all areas covered by the report are able to be considered, however the Sub-committee hopes to attract written submissions on the four focus areas above at this stage.

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