Statement by the Secretary – 16 May 2011

National Security and International Policy Group

An article by Mr Daniel Flitton about the Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet (PM&C) in this morning’s Age, is inaccurate on a range of fronts (‘Budget cuts hit the PM’s national security unit’, Age, Monday 16 May 2011).

Reductions in the Group’s funding over the next two financial years relate predominantly to the one-off effect of Australia’s contribution in respect of the Christchurch earthquake, and the planned conclusion of two time-specific, multi-year budget measures (relating to border protection and people smuggling, and a small grants program that is just one element of the Government’s wider National Security Science and Innovation Strategy).

The Office of National Security that was part of the Government’s 2007 election commitment did not ‘quietly dissolve’. Rather, following the Smith Review and the appointment of Mr Duncan Lewis as National Security Adviser in December 2008, the Office of National Security was renamed the National Security and International Policy Group to better reflect the full range of its responsibilities. This Group comprises: the International Division; the Homeland and Border Security Division; the Defence, Intelligence and Research Coordination Division and the National Security Chief Information Officer/Cyber Policy Coordinator.

The National Security Adviser, and the staff who support him, continue to play a central role in whole-of-government policy advice and coordination on the full range of enduring and emerging national security challenges. In line with those continuing responsibilities, average staffing numbers in the Group (which also embraces secondees from other Government agencies) have remained broadly consistent over the past three years.

The article also presents “the cuts as returning the Prime Minister’s Department to its more traditional role coordinating other government agencies rather than making policy”. A crucial foundation of Australia’s democracy is that Governments, not officials, make policy. PM&C continues to advise the Prime Minister on the full range of significant policy issues across Government with undiminished enthusiasm while supporting other Ministers within the Prime Minister’s portfolio.

Terry Moran
16 May 2011

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Last Updated: 16 May 2011