Pandemic and Its Impact on Australian Defence

By Ben Peckham

In an April 2, 2020 article by Ben Peckham published in the Australian, the work of our new partner, The Institute for Integrated Economic Research-Australia was highlighted

Before the crisis, Scott Morrison was being urged behind the scenes to recast the national security debate to include a clear-eyed assessment of the nation’s most pressing vulnerabilities.

Australia’s overwhelming reliance on imported medicines and fuel, its decimated merchant shipping fleet and hollowed-out manufacturing industry were among the identified priorities…..

Retired air vice-marshal John Blackburn has been one of the leading advocates for a more holistic view of national security based on “smart sovereignty” and trusted supply chains.

“We’ve got to accept that the price of not doing it is much higher than the lower cost of buying the cheapest thing,” he tells The Australian.

“When a crisis happens, the government and the community can get on and manage the crisis, and we’re not running around fighting for toilet rolls.”

The Institute for Integrated Economic Research, which Blackburn chairs, recently published a paper that identifies Australia’s 90 per cent reliance on imported medicines as a national ­security risk. It warns that the China-dominated supply chain for drugs and active pharmaceutical ingredients leave Australia’s medical supplies vulnerable to disruption.

And the Therapeutic Goods Administration’s medicines shortages list reveals that 58 drugs used by Australians are subject to critical supply issues, with more than a dozen added to the list in the past fortnight alone.

The retired RAAF officer also has been a key agitator on Australia’s fuel insecurity, railing against the lack of strategic reserves of crude oil and finished petroleum. According to Department of Energy figures, Australia has only 29 days’ worth of liquid fuel stocks at refineries and wholesale terminals — well under the International Energy Agency’s 90-day fuel security benchmark.