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AUKUS Expansion Needed to Avoid Seeming Like a ‘Cosy, Anglophone Club’

AUKUS nations must dispel the notion the pact is a “cosy, anglophone club” to counter authoritarian nations’ growing technological edge, the UK’s former national security adviser says.

It comes as Deputy Prime Minister Richard Marles earlier said Australia’s “great national challenge” was to climb up the technological ladder with the AUKUS pact playing a pivotal role in the strategy.

But Australia, the US and the UK must first do more to persuade other nations that the technology-sharing alliance is also in their interests, Sir Stephen Lovegrove told the Sydney Dialogue forum on Tuesday.

“This is about three nations in pillar one, and potentially many more than three nations in pillar two, collaborating for the greater good, for the safety and security of, in particular, the Indo-Pacific,” the former top adviser until the end of 2022 said.

Office of National Intelligence director-general Andrew Shearer said there had been support in the region but government’s felt unable to “come out and express that support strongly, publicly”.

“I think that goes to your point about the underlying purpose around upholding stability and I think other countries see that and that means there is a sort of … shared appreciation of what’s happening in the region and something for us to build on,” he said.

Sir Stephen said collaboration with other nations should be pursued to help rebalance power in favour of liberal democracies, as authoritarian regimes use their greater ability to mobilise state resources to develop a technological edge.

“It is inconceivable to me that, for instance, Russia and China are going to be prepared to share technologies and information in the way that our three nations are prepared to do so,” Sir Stephen said.

“There’s an enormous benefit to us if we can manage to pull together those installed bases of expertise, knowledge, experience, and skill, which are not going to be available to some of our strategic competitors.”

Susan Gordon, former director of national intelligence under the Trump administration, said allies beyond the traditional Five Eyes alliance were going to be necessary as the AUKUS nations’ position was “way too fragile” in a “dynamic” world.

But it wouldn’t be without challenges.

“What it’s going to require, I believe, and this is hard for us, is, one, talk at the values level and then, two, recognise that there’s kind of a mirage of pesky sovereignty in a digitally, economically connected world where you can’t just dictate how someone participates,” she said.

Australia needs to climb the technological ladder: Marles

Mr Marles earlier told the forum Australia must develop its economy beyond relying on primary industries in order to climb up the technological ladder.

Australia ranks 91st between Kenya and Namibia on the Harvard Index of Technological Complexity, which assesses the technological knowledge and complexity of an economy.

Pillar two of AUKUS, which focuses on developing emerging technologies like hypersonics and artificial intelligence, is central to boosting the nation’s ability to commercialise science and infuse it into the economy, Mr Marles said.

“The history of human contest is ultimately a history of technological competition, and we must be at the forefront of that,” he said.

“Certainly acquiring a nuclear powered submarine capability for Australia, and becoming just the seventh country in the world to be able to operate that technology, will be a very significant step forward in capability for our nation.

“But the pillar two area of AUKUS, which seeks to look at other emerging technologies, is going to be fundamentally important for our nation as well.”

Source : The Canberra Times