With the COVID-19 pandemic highlighting the responsiveness and flexibility of Australian systems and its people, as well as exposing some structural weaknesses, the Parliament’s Foreign Affairs, Defence and Trade Committee will tomorrow hold a public hearing as part of an inquiry into the resilience of Australia’s supply chains and the impact of COVID-19 on the global rules based order.
Witnesses appearing before the Committee will represent an inter-disciplinary consultancy group, an Australian policy, geopolitical and economic think-tank, and experts specialising in ‘grey zone’ defence tactics, strategies increasingly used by other nation states.
Committee Chair Senator the Hon David Fawcett says that COVID has heightened awareness for many Australians that a “business as usual” approach is not sustainable with the dual impacts of the pandemic and the changing strategic environment.
‘Reducing acquisition cost has been a major feature of business supply-chain decisions since the turn of the century, including off-shoring production and just-in-time replenishment.’ Senator Fawcett said.
‘This disruption is forcing a national discussion into the weaknesses in some of Australia’s key supply-chain models and an analysis of what can be done to build-in resilience. COVID‑19 has prompted a rethink of our current trade and manufacturing architecture and ensuring defence strategy responds to the new environment, from both a health and a strategic perspective.’
Dr Alan Dupont AO, the CEO and founder of consultancy firm Cognoscenti Group, will discuss his submission highlighting the threats to the current global rules-based order and the likely implications for Australia as supply chains ‘decouple’.
The Committee will explore this—and the possible emergence of new geopolitical blocs—with Dr Dupont and with another submitter, Mr John Blackburn AO, retired RAAF Air Vice‑Marshal and founder of the Institute of Integrated Economic Research Australia.
Australia’s exposure to geopolitical risks, the stability of near neighbours and its defence and cyber security capabilities will be discussed with joint submitters: Professor Sascha Dov Bachmann, Professor in Law, University of Canberra; and Dr Andrew Dowse AO, Director of Defence Research, Edith Cowan University and also retired RAAF Air Vice-Marshal.
Full terms of reference for the inquiry are on the Committee website.