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Delivering now, building for the future


On 25 February 2016, the Australian Government announced the release of the 2016 Defence White Paper. For the first time, the White Paper aligns strategy, capability and resources in order to make the Australian Defence Force more capable, agile and potent. It is the culmination of detailed analysis of Defence’s strategic environment, defence priorities and objectives, and the capabilities required to achieve these outcomes.

Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, MP, speaking to the press after the launch of the 2016 Defence White Paper at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra
Prime Minister of Australia, the Hon Malcolm Turnbull, MP, speaking to the press after the launch of the 2016 Defence White Paper at the Australian Defence Force Academy in Canberra

The White Paper commits investment in new capability across Defence, including:

  • a continuous naval shipbuilding program commencing with nine future frigates and 12 offshore patrol vessels
  • twelve new regionally superior submarines, with the commitment to maximise Australian industry involvement in acquisition and sustainment
  • enhanced intelligence, surveillance and reconnaissance, space, electronic warfare and cyber capabilities
  • advanced training, modern equipment, healthcare and logistics systems to support Australian Defence Force personnel
  • comprehensive upgrades to infrastructure across Australia to support Defence’s larger future force, including key bases, training and testing ranges, and fuel and explosive ordnance facilities
  • modernised information management, operational communications, and command and control systems.

The objectives of the White Paper will be achieved through the implementation of the Integrated Investment Program and Defence Industry Policy Statement.

In developing the White Paper, Defence adopted an integrated approach to bring together the key elements of investment needed to deliver and sustain Australia’s defence capabilities. The fully costed, 10-year Integrated Investment Program brings together all capability-related investment including equipment, infrastructure, information and communications technology, science and technology, and workforce. It will facilitate the whole-of-capability and whole-of-life approach to investment recommended in the First Principles Review: Creating One Defence report.

The Integrated Investment Program will also guide prioritisation of investment over the decade to 2025–26 and will be reviewed annually as part of the development of the budget. The program will evolve in response to changes in Australia’s strategic circumstances, including capability priorities and developments in technology.

The Defence Industry Policy Statement released with the White Paper provides the foundation to take the partnerships between Defence and industry to new levels of cooperation, with a focus on stronger, more strategic partnerships and closer alignment between industry investment and Defence capability needs. Initiatives in the Defence Industry Policy Statement will see the development of a technologically advanced, innovation-driven, competitive and sustainable Australian defence industrial base, which is well placed to assist Defence in protecting Australia’s national interests.

The successful implementation of the First Principles Review is critical to delivering on Government requirements outlined in the White Paper. The White Paper provides the comprehensive long-term strategy to deliver an Australian Defence Force that is more capable, agile and potent; the First Principles Review will ensure we have an organisation that has the necessary structures, processes and governance in place to achieve this.