Scott Morrison’s ‘deliberate’ words of war during defence boost speech

Prime Minister Scott Morrison has recorded a video which sends a strong message to people smugglers about Australia's zero tolerance policy to illegal boats. (AAP). Sketched by the Pan Pacific Agency.

CANBERRA, Jul 1, 2020, News.com.au. Scott Morrison “deliberately” drew on wartime language as he announced a new $270 billion plan over the next decade to boost Australia’s defence. Speaking from Canberra today, the Prime Minister outlined the nation’s plan to build up the Australian Defence Force and move to a greater focus on its efforts on the Indo-Pacific region, News.com.au reported.

He warned that we need to prepare for a “more dangerous” world after the COVID-19 pandemic, adding that “we will never surrender” our freedoms.

“We don’t seek to entangle, intimidate or silence our neighbours. We respect their sovereignty. We champion it. And we want others to respect ours,” he said. “Sovereignty means self-respect, freedom to be ourselves, independence, free thinking. We will never surrender this.”

He made references to the Great Depression and World War II, stating: “We have not seen the conflation of global economic and strategic uncertainty now being experienced here in Australia in our region since the existential threat we faced when the global and regional order collapsed in the 1930s and 1940s.”

Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said the Prime Minister’s references to these periods during his speech were “not made lightly”.

She said Mr Morrison made several deliberate links to the 1930s pre-war environment, in which he hearkened back to a time when “our nation and in fact the world faced two great threats at once, one was economic uncertainty – but also a deterioration in strategic circumstances”.

“Our world clearly, as a result of COVID-19, is exacerbating what I think we could say is a disorderly environment,” she added.

Mr Morrison has frequently used “war”-like language when talking about the COVID-19 pandemic.

Three months ago, he told 60 Minutes that “we are in war with this virus”, in a bid to get Australians to take the pandemic and social distancing measures seriously.

He has also repeatedly rallied “Team Australia” to come together in the “fight” against COVID-19. “We are putting in place the big economic lifeline and buffers for Australians in this, their toughest ever year in 2020,” he told parliament in April.

“We are charting the road through. We are all in. Our institutions are strong. Our people are strong. Australia is strong and will continue to be strong.

“We will respond to this challenge, and we are up to the fight. We will pay the price needed to protect our sovereignty, and we will chart our way out.”


Mr Morrison has committed $270 billion over the next decade to prepare Australia against a “more dangerous and more disorderly” world.

He today outlined the nation’s plan to build up the Australian Defence Force and move to a greater focus on its efforts on the Indo-Pacific region.

“The simple truth is this: even as we stare down the COVID pandemic at home, we need to also prepare for a post-COVID world that is poorer, more dangerous and more disorderly,” he said.

The speech was the unveiling of the 2020 Defence Strategic Update and the new Force Structure Plan.

Under the new plan, defence surveillance will be expanded, 800 new ADF jobs will be created, and the nation will invest in long-range missiles and collaborate with allies on hypersonic weapon development.

The announcement comes amid heightened tensions with China as a result of the coronavirus and Australia‘s push for an independent investigation into its origins.

The strategic environment and heightened risk from any miscalculation make it vital that Australia is able to respond with credible military force if it needs to, Mr Morrison said.

“If we needed reminding, 2020 has demonstrated in no uncertain terms that the challenges and threats we face as a nation evolve continuously,” he said.

The funding will expand plans to acquire “sophisticated maritime long-range missiles, air-launched strike and anti-ship weapons, and additional land-based weapons systems”.

Mr Morrison stressed that Australia had moved to a new and “less benign” strategic era.

“The Indo-Pacific is the epicentre of rising strategic competition,” he said.

“Tensions over territorial claims are rising across the Indo-Pacific region – as we have seen recently on the disputed border between India and China, in the South China Sea, and in the East China Sea.”

The Prime Minister said Australia needed stronger deterrence capabilities to “influence their calculus of costs involved in threatening Australian interests”.

“Capabilities that can hold potential adversaries’ forces and critical infrastructure at risk from a distance, thereby deterring an attack on Australia and helping to prevent war,” he said.

Share it

Exclusive: Beyond the Covid-19 world's coverage