The Institute for Integrated Economic Research has recently released an 11 page research paper about our national supply chains vulnerabilities. The nation currently imports 90% of our medicines, 90% of our fuels (a 50% increase over the last decade) and 98% of our imports and exports depend on the foreign owned/controlled maritime trade system.

The research asserts that the extensive global outsourcing of the production of pharmaceutical ingredients, medicines, PPE and other essential inputs to supply or finished products across a range of goods and services, has left many nations shocked and now saying ‘never again. There is no doubt that the conflation of global, economic and strategic uncertainty now exists around the world today and Australia must prepare for an increasing hostile world.

While not attempting to rewrite history or offer impractical solutions the Institute suggests the concept of ‘Smart Sovereignty. Smart Sovereignty infers not only a degree of Australian based manufacturing capability and associated domestic supply chains, but the appropriate research and development facilities and a skilled, experienced workforce. Sovereignty also implies Australian ownership and/or control over critical capabilities.

The Institute suggests we must have diverse and transparent supply chains and have the ability to verify them. Our ‘strategic industries’ are considered those that support critical infrastructure including communications, energy, healthcare/public health, transportation systems and water.

Research is required and the Institute is doing this by preparing a National Resilience Project; the intent for the project is to make a contribution to the conversation we have to have in Australia, and to offer constructive suggestions on where we, as a nation, need to head when we emerge from the pandemic crisis and face the challenge of building the next generation economy, more resilient societal systems and thus improved sovereignty and security.

It is interesting to note that the Morrison Government has recently provided $150 million for the Moon to Mars initiative and resultant commercial supply chains. After-all they always claim that the enduring responsibility of Government is to protect Australia’s national interest, our sovereignty, our values and the security of the Australian people. Perhaps then they could also find funds for the National Resilience Project as well!