Australia’s National Resilience

By John Blackburn

The Institute for Integrated Economic Research – Australia was formed in 2018. Its purpose is to address our need for greater resilience in our society, both structurally and culturally, given the significant transition challenges that we will have to face in forthcoming decades. In Australia we currently lack resilience.

The institute’s reports have addressed examples of the lack of resilience and security in economic, environmental, energy and infrastructure systems. For example, we import 90% of our medicines and fuels and are 98% dependent on maritime trade for our imports and exports. This, without having conducted an integrated systems risk analysis in any of these areas. Many of these supply chains are opaque and not verifiable. We have, in effect, left our resilience and security to the market. After the immediate pandemic crisis response, we will need to have a very difficult conversation in this country; we will have to face reality.

The institute’s National Resilience Project aims to make a contribution to that conversation and to offer constructive suggestions on where we, as a nation, need to head when we emerge from the rubble of our economic and health systems. A shell-shocked society will need strong leaders at all levels and a sense of “where to next.”

John Blackburn is a consultant in the field of Defence and National Security. In 2007 he was appointed an Officer in the Military Division of the Order Of Australia (AO). He holds a Master of Arts and a Master of Defence Studies and is a Fellow of the Royal Society of NSW, the Institute For Regional Security, the Sir Richard Williams Foundation and the Australian Institute of Energy. He is a life member of the Society of Experimental Test Pilots. John retired from the Royal Australian Air Force in 2008 as the Deputy Chief of the Air Force following a career as an F/A-18 fighter pilot, test pilot and strategic planner. John’s senior posts included Commander of the Integrated Area Defence System (IADS) located in Malaysia, commanding a multi-national headquarters established to effect the Five Power Defence Arrangements, and Head of Strategic Policy in the Defence Headquarters.

In his RAAF Reserve role, he supported the RAAF Chief in the design of Plan Jericho in 2014, then inducted and mentored the Plan Jericho team until December 2015. In 2016 and 2017 he supported the Vice-Chief of Defence Staffs in the design of the future integrated force. Since 2008, John has consulted in the fields of Defence and National Security and has undertaken a number of related studies under the Institute for Integrated Economic Research – Australia, the Kokoda Foundation (now the Institute For Regional Security) and the Sir Richard Wiliams Foundation.

John assumed the Chairmanship of the Institute of Integrated Economic Research-Australia when it was established in early 2018. His previous Board roles have included being the Chairman of the Kokoda Foundation Board, the Deputy Chairman of the Williams Foundation Board and the Defence nominee on the Australian Strategic Policy Institute Council. John has published articles and reports on Energy Security, Economic Security, Integrated Air and Missile Defence, the 5th Gen Air Force, Cyber Security, Space Policy, Defence Logistics, Defence White Papers and Fuel Security.