Annual Report

National security and international policy

The National Security and International Policy Group provides advice to the Prime Minister and coordinates across Government on intelligence and cyber issues; border protection, defence and security; and foreign trade and international relations.

The Group was restructured following the machinery of government changes in September 2013 and comprises:

  • Cyber Policy and Intelligence Division
  • National Security Division
  • International Division

Highlights 2013–14

In 2013–2014, the National Security and International Policy Group provided advice to the Prime Minister on national security and international policy initiatives, including:

  • supporting the Prime Minister’s visit in April 2014 to North Asia, where he conveyed Australia’s interest in working more closely with our regional neighbours towards the shared goal of a peaceful and secure region, witnessed the signing of the Free Trade Agreement (FTA) with Korea, concluded FTA negotiations with Japan, and agreed to accelerate FTA negotiations with China
  • strengthening Australia’s relationship with Indonesia and Papua New Guinea by providing policy advice and support for visits by former Prime Minister Rudd (July 2013) and Prime Minister Abbott (Indonesia, September 2013; Papua New Guinea March 2014)
  • advising the Prime Minister on decisions related to Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and providing whole of government coordination of Australia’s effort to locate the missing plane
  • supporting former Prime Minister Rudd’s negotiations with the Government of Papua New Guinea regarding the resettlement of illegal maritime arrivals in Papua New Guinea and supporting the delivery of Operation Sovereign Borders policy outcomes, including as they relate to countering people smuggling and illegal maritime arrivals
  • reinforcing the deep ties with two of Australia’s closest allies and helping to strengthen our trade and investment relationships by providing policy advice and support for the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States and Canada in June 2014
  • supporting the Prime Minister’s visit to France in June 2014 to attend commemorations for the 70th anniversary of the D-Day landings and to visit World War I Western Front sites, including announcing Australia will build a new interpretive centre at Villers-Bretonneux to raise the profile of the Western Front and mark the centenary of WWI
  • supporting the Prime Minister’s visit with the Leader of the Opposition to Afghanistan in October 2013 to mark the approaching end of Australia’s mission in Uruzgan Province with Australian military and civilian personnel
  • hosting a strategic dialogue with partner countries to develop and promote Australia’s policy positions on key cyber issues, including capacity building, supply chain security, technical standards and cyber crime; and participating in key regional meetings, such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum Workshop on Cyber Confidence Building Measures in Malaysia
  • establishing the Cyber Incident Management Arrangements to ensure an effective whole of government response to cyber security incidents
  • advancing the Prime Minister’s economic diplomacy agenda by advising the Prime Minister on Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations with key economic partners and organising comprehensive ‘Team Australia’ delegations that included multiple senior ministers, state premiers, and business leaders as part of the Prime Ministers overseas visits
  • supporting Defence-related aspects regarding our whole of government national security commitments in Afghanistan
  • assisting the Prime Minister to launch the ANZAC Centenary Public Fund and supporting the development of Centenary of ANZAC commemorations
  • delivering the third annual ‘Cyber Security Challenge Australia 2014’ in partnership with the Australian Signals Directorate, Telstra, NBN Co, PwC and Microsoft. The Challenge encouraged promising tertiary students to pursue a career in cyber security.

Figure 2.2 KPIs for the National Security and International Policy Group

National Security and International Policy Met
High-quality, relevant and timely advice and support to the Prime Minister, the Cabinet and Cabinet committee chairs, Portfolio Ministers and Parliamentary Secretaries based on an objective and thorough understanding of issues and whole of government perspective.
Regular, timely and collaborative communication and cooperation with other central agencies, portfolio departments and other key stakeholders.
Successful leadership and coordination of the national security community to promote a national security system that anticipates threats, responds effectively to crises and major security events, protects the nation and shapes the world in Australia’s interest.
Advancement of the Government’s international priorities that promote Australia’s security, prosperity, international profile and influence.
Advice and support for key stakeholders for state occasions and official visits that is timely, relevant and of high-quality.
Successfully advance Australia’s interests through the G20.

Cyber Policy and Intelligence Division

The Division provides advice to government on cyber, information sharing, information security, and intelligence issues. The Division also has line agency responsibility for developing and implementing cyber security policy.

Cyber Policy

In 2013–14 we continued to lead the interdepartmental Cyber Policy Group and the International Engagement Group to ensure effective cooperation and coordination of cyber policy across the Australian Government. We also worked with government agencies to support the establishment of the Australian Cyber Security Centre by 2015.

The Third Annual ‘Cyber Security Challenge Australia 2014’

Our growing reliance on the internet outpaces growth in the number of cyber security professionals Australia needs to maintain a secure online environment. To address this issue, PM&C delivers an annual cyber security competition, the Cyber Security Challenge Australia. The Challenge involves teams of tertiary and TAFE students from across Australia competing in a controlled simulation game. It is designed to inspire these students to become our next generation of cyber security professionals. The 2014 Challenge was the largest in the competition’s three year history. It involved over 200 students from 22 education institutions and it took place over the 24-hour period from midday Wednesday 7 May 2014.

a photograph of Participants at the Cyber Security Challenge Australia 2014

Photo 2.2 Participants at the Cyber Security Challenge Australia 2014.

We finalised the Cyber Incident Management Arrangements in 2013 and carried out exercises to strengthen agencies’ capabilities and processes to effectively respond to cyber incidents. In partnership with relevant government agencies and industry, we coordinated the third annual ‘Cyber Security Challenge Australia 2014’. The Challenge enables participants to compete in a national cyber security competition via a virtual network.

We continued to lead on establishing a whole of government position on cyber issues, such as freedom of expression online and internet governance, at key international forums. We also continued to engage in work with the United Nations on the application of international law in cyberspace and to build consensus on a range of confidence-building measures in the region.


We provide high-level policy advice to the Prime Minister on intelligence issues including National Intelligence Priorities and collection management, information sharing, budgets and legal and governance issues, including oversight. We work closely with intelligence and national security agencies to contribute to coordination of intelligence-related issues. We act as the secretariat for the National Intelligence Coordination Committee and work closely with the National Intelligence Community Collection Committee on intelligence priorities.

In 2013–14 we continued to support the Government’s consideration of national security issues such as the implications of unauthorised disclosures, oversight of the intelligence community and emerging intelligence related issues.

We coordinated the National Security Information Environment Roadmap – a programme of reform to improve the way national security agencies share and protect sensitive information and streamline national security computer networks.

National Security Division

The Division provides advice on defence and domestic security policy areas, including defence strategy, policy and operations, defence budgets, capability and acquisitions, Defence support issues, counter-terrorism, border protection and law enforcement, counter-people smuggling, and crisis management.


We provided advice on Defence-related aspects of Australia’s whole of government engagement with Afghanistan including the completion of the drawdown of Australia’s military and civilian deployment in Uruzgan Province at the end of 2013, and the closure of Australia’s base in Tarin Kowt. We supported two Prime Ministerial visits to Afghanistan, for former Prime Minister Rudd in July 2013 and Prime Minister Abbott in October 2013.

We supported the Prime Minister’s consideration of major defence issues relating to strategic policy, Defence operations and major capital acquisitions. In particular, we provided policy advice on the 2015 Defence White Paper, the First Principles Review of Defence, the Defence Capability Plan, and the acquisition of the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter and the P-8A Poseidon aircraft.

We supported the Prime Minister’s participation in events leading up to the Centenary of ANZAC and the commemorative components of his visits to Europe and North America in June 2014.

Border Protection and Law Enforcement

We advised the Prime Minister on border protection policy matters including the consolidation and reform of Australia’s border protection agencies and services announced in the 2014–15 Budget.

Over the year we advised the Prime Minister on law enforcement issues including the Government’s response to the challenges of organised crime and gang violence.


We advised the Prime Minister on domestic and international counter-terrorism policy matters.

We supported the Australia – New Zealand Counter-Terrorism Committee (ANZCTC) in coordination of national counter-terrorism policy, capability and legislation. We coordinated and supported three meetings of the ANZCTC and two meetings of its Capability Steering Group, which included discussion on the implications of Australians returning from participation in the conflicts in Syria and Iraq.

Counter-People Smuggling

We formed a Taskforce drawing on key people from across the public service and developed advice for former Prime Minister Rudd on the policy of offshore processing of illegal maritime arrivals (IMAs) and supported his negotiations with the Government of Papua New Guinea regarding the settlement of IMAs in Papua New Guinea.

We advised Prime Minister Abbott on Operation Sovereign Borders policy matters, including as they relate to countering people smuggling and illegal maritime arrivals.

We supported the integration across government of Operation Sovereign Borders policy by chairing the Interdepartmental Reference Group, a policy related information sharing forum of senior officials from border protection and national security departments and agencies.

Crisis Management

We supported the Government’s crisis management response to the NSW bushfires in October 2013. We also revised the Australian Government Crisis Management Framework and assisted with the coordination of national security exercising.

We partnered with International Division to advise the Prime Minister on decisions related to the search for missing Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 and assisted with integrating the Australian Government’s efforts in the search for the aircraft.

International Division

The International Division provides advice on foreign policy, trade and aid priorities, bilateral relations and Australia’s engagement with regional and international organisations to the Prime Minister.

Economic Diplomacy

In 2013–14, the Government stepped up its economic diplomacy and reprioritised Australia’s trade and investment relationships. We supported the Prime Minister’s commitment to strengthening our trading relationships and growing a strong economy through supporting the finalisation of bilateral Free Trade Agreement (FTA) negotiations, providing advice on Australia’s commitment to regional and multilateral trade negotiations, and supporting the Prime Minister’s overseas business delegations.

In particular, we:

  • supported the Prime Minister’s role in concluding negotiations for the
  • Korea–Australia FTA and the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement
  • provided advice on advancing FTA negotiations with China, which is Australia’s largest trading partner and third largest source of investment
  • provided advice on regional trade negotiations, including the Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement and the Regional Comprehensive Economic Partnership, which have the potential to strengthen economic links in the Asia–Pacific region and provide new opportunities for Australian goods and services in regional value chains
  • worked with the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Austrade to organise the Prime Minister’s overseas CEO business delegations to South Korea, Japan, China, Indonesia, the United States, Canada and Papua New Guinea
  • supported the Prime Minister’s active role at the Asia–Pacific Economic Cooperation (APEC) Leaders’ Meeting in October 2013.

Consistent with this reshaping of Australia’s economic diplomacy, we supported the Government’s recalibration of Australia’s aid programme to be more innovative, leveraging other drivers for development, such as private sector investment and domestic finance.

Engagement in the Asia–Pacific

We provided advice and support for the Prime Minister’s visit to Indonesia in September 2013, which was his first overseas visit as Prime Minister. During the visit, the Prime Minister reaffirmed our strong links with Indonesia across a wide front. He announced the establishment of the Australia–Indonesia Centre at Monash University in Melbourne, further strengthening the people-to-people links between Australia and Indonesia. A delegation of 21 senior CEOs and representatives of the university sector underscored the depth and potential of the bilateral economic relationship.

MH370 National Security and International Division Collaboration

Malaysia Airlines flight MH370 disappeared on 8 March 2014 en route from Kuala Lumpur to Beijing with 239 passengers and crew on board.

After initially concentrating on the area around the Malaysian Peninsula, the search shifted when further analysis determined that MH370 had flown into the southern Indian Ocean. The new search zone was located in Australia’s Search and Rescue Region, activating our international obligations. The Australian Government responded rapidly and proactively to the complex search.

On 17 March, the Prime Minister announced that Australia would lead the search for MH370 at Malaysia’s request. The Australian Maritime Safety Authority assumed responsibility for coordinating an international search effort which came to involve aircraft and vessels from eight countries (Australia, Malaysia, China, South Korea, Japan, the United States, the United Kingdom and New Zealand) scouring an area stretching over 319,000 square kilometres.

On 30 March, the Government established the Joint Agency Coordination Centre to be the public face of the search effort and to manage communication with all the stakeholders, including the governments of Malaysia and China, the families of those on board the aircraft and the media.

In light of the complex and sensitive nature of the search, PM&C chaired an inter-agency group from 21 March to ensure that Australia’s search effort was underpinned by strong whole of government cooperation. Over subsequent weeks, 13 Commonwealth and State government departments and agencies played a role in the search effort, with the Australian Defence Force deploying aircraft and surface vessels. Reflecting its central coordination role, the Department was able to ensure that Commonwealth and state agencies harnessed the resources required to carry through the Prime Minister’s commitment to lead the search.

The inter-agency group chaired by PM&C met up to three times per week. The Department hosted 23 meetings before handing over responsibility for the inter-agency group to the Department of Infrastructure and Regional Development, on 13 May. The inter-agency group allowed senior officials from relevant agencies to share information, formulate a coordinated approach to the search and ensure consistent messaging. This work highlighted the Department’s flexibility and ability to adapt to fast-paced situations.

At the same time, the Department advised the Prime Minister about the state of the search and facilitated his contact with Malaysian and Chinese leaders, ensuring that Australia’s lead role in the search was underpinned by strong political support from the Malaysian and Chinese governments.

The search for MH370 continues, with the Department engaging as necessary.

We provided support for former Prime Minister Rudd’s visit to Indonesia for the third annual 2013 Indonesia–Australia Leaders’ Meeting in July 2013 where he announced a $60 million funding package for increasing agricultural cooperation.

We worked closely with our New Zealand counterparts to organise the annual Australia – New Zealand Leaders’ Meeting held in Sydney in February 2014. At this meeting, leaders agreed on a range of initiatives to take forward the bilateral relationship including measures to boost productivity, increase competitiveness, and deepen economic integration between the two countries, an Australia Business Week in Sydney in July 2014 and a trans-Tasman visa for the Cricket World Cup in 2015.

In March 2014 we supported the Prime Minister’s visit to Papua New Guinea, which highlighted the breadth and maturity of Australia’s relationship with PNG. Leaders agreed to hold annual leaders’ meetings, reaffirmed strong defence and security links, and signed an Economic Cooperation Treaty reflecting the increasing importance of trade and investment ties.

We also supported the Prime Minister’s engagement with other regional leaders during visits to Australia, including by Chairperson of the National League for Democracy in Burma, Daw Aung San Suu Kyi AC and the President of Singapore, Dr Tony Tan Keng Yam.

We assisted with the Prime Minister’s visits to Japan, South Korea and China in April 2014, which built even closer bonds with our North Asian neighbours and demonstrated that Australia is open for business. In Japan, negotiations were concluded for the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement. In South Korea, the Prime Minister witnessed the signing of the Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement. In China, the Prime Minister was joined by Ministers Bishop, Robb and Billson, his Parliamentary Secretary the Hon Josh Frydenberg MP, five state premiers, one Chief Minister and 30 of our country’s most senior chairmen and CEOs – and hundreds of business people – in the first ever Australia Week in China.

We also provided advice and assistance for the Prime Minister’s attendance at the 2013 Commonwealth Heads of Government meeting in Colombo, where Australia handed over the Commonwealth Chair-in-Office function to Sri Lanka.

The Australia–US Alliance

Another important trip we supported was the Prime Minister’s visit to the United States, during which he reaffirmed the strength of the Alliance, announcing with President Obama the conclusion of a Force Posture Agreement. The Prime Minister underlined Australian support for the US rebalance to the Asia–Pacific region. A delegation of 19 senior business, university and arts representatives highlighted the many linkages which bind Australia and the United States together. In addition to Washington DC, the Prime Minister visited New York where he met senior business leaders, and Houston where he announced that Australia would open a consulate reflecting the significant two-way business interests, particularly in the energy sector.

International Security

We advised the Prime Minister on major international security issues, including in relation to the civil war in Syria, instability in Ukraine, kidnappings in Nigeria, the Middle East Peace Process, and escalating conflict in Iraq.

We also advised on non-proliferation and disarmament issues, regional security, and Australia’s contribution to the United Nations Security Council as a non-permanent member.

‘Open for Business’ – the Prime Minister’s Visit to North Asia

International Division played a key role in developing policy messages and choreographing the many elements of the Prime Minister’s complex visit to North Asia in April 2014 to ensure the visit was a success. Japan, South Korea and China are three of Australia’s four largest trading partners and Australia has longstanding relationships with each country. With a combined population of 1.5 billion people and a collective GDP of US$15 trillion, our North Asian neighbours are key partners for Australia in the region.

International Division worked with partners across the Australian Government, State governments, business and our counterparts in Japan, South Korea and China to deliver an ambitious programme for the Prime Minister. This included leader-level engagement, strengthening economic and strategic ties, and helping to coordinate the Prime Minister’s business delegation.

The Prime Minister’s visit to the three countries in April 2014 delivered the message to the region that Australia is open for business. The Prime Minister announced the conclusion of negotiations on the Japan–Australia Economic Partnership Agreement, signed the Korea–Australia Free Trade Agreement and progressed negotiations on a free trade agreement with China. The Prime Minister’s meetings with Prime Minister Abe of Japan, President Park of South Korea and President Xi and Premier Li of China underscored the growing cooperation between Australia and the region on economic and strategic matters.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by business delegations to each destination, and by the Premiers of all six States and the Chief Minister of the ACT. In China, the Prime Minister’s programme intersected with the Australian Government’s largest ever trade mission to China, with over 700 Australian delegates participating in the first ever Australia Week in China.

Business leaders took part in important elements of the Prime Minister’s programme, including state dinners. Through their own dedicated programmes in each country, they also advanced their business interests. The involvement of the business delegation was a practical demonstration of the Prime Minister’s economic policy agenda.

a photograph of The Prime Minister (the Hon Tony Abbott MP) on his visit to North Asia

Photo 2.3 The Prime Minister (the Hon Tony Abbott MP) on his visit to North Asia

a photograph of The Secretary attending the Australia–China CEO round table meeting with the Prime Minister (the Hon Tony Abbott MP)

Photo 2.4 The Secretary attending the Australia–China CEO round table meeting with the Prime Minister (the Hon Tony Abbott MP)