The second season of The ACSS Podcast explores topics highly relevant to Australia’s evolving national security issues in 2022. In December, roughly 70 high-calibre delegates from a variety of fields will participate in a week-long Summit. Currently, in its third year, the ACSS will host hubs in capital cities across Australia and a US team based out of Washington DC. This year delegates will face three intense and realistic crisis simulations exploring domestic, regional, and maritime national security dilemmas.

These podcast episodes will assist our delegates to prepare for summit week while also informing our wider audience of evolving issues relating to Australia’s national security.

We hope you enjoy this series.

Opinions and views expressed on topics in this series reflect the personal opinions of our highly esteemed guests. Statements made within this series do not reflect the views of the ACSS, ANU or our sponsors.

Episode One: Introduction to the ACSS

The 2022 ACSS Director, Genevieve Lumb, joins us to discuss the upcoming summit in December, what our delegates should expect and the work the ACSS team is doing in preparation.

Episode Two: the war in Ukraine

2022 has been nothing short of momentous in the realm of Russia’s relations with the West. After six months at war, questions arise regarding Russia’s short-term and long-term intentions in the conflict. What are the implications of US-supplied weaponry to Ukraine? Is the response from the international community helpful in achieving a resolution to the war? On the 9th of August, we got the privilege to sit down with Dr Charles Miller to delve into the rapidly evolving details of the situation in Eastern Europe.

Episode three: nuclear politics

The politics of nuclear weapons is back on the agenda for Australian policymakers. Regional nuclear capabilities combined with flashpoints across the Asia-Pacific have the potential to create security risks for Australia. In addition, the AUKUS nuclear submarine security pact complicates Australia’s role as a non-nuclear state. Dr Benjamin Zala joins us on this episode to explore the modern implications of nuclear weapons, where Australia stands on the topic, and what the future looks like in this field.

Episode four: the taiwan flashpoint

The political status of Taiwan is contentious. Recognition of the Republic of China has been a point of conflict in international politics for many years. The West’s relationship with China has ebbed and flowed, arguably influenced by states like the US and Australia’s interaction with and support of Taiwan. Australia’s alliance commitments and political agenda place it in a delicate position. Dr Iain Henry joins us this week to explore Taiwan’s historical, current and future political implications and where Australia sits on these issues.

Episode Five: an interview with the Honourable Julie Bishop

In this episode, we had the privilege of interviewing ANU’s Chancellor, the Honourable Julie Bishop. The Chancellor devoted her life to Australian politics and spent years across multiple ministerial positions. Her portfolios included Education, Science and Training, Women’s Issues and Foreign Affairs. Some of the Chancellor’s later political endeavours include serving as Australia’s first female Minister for Foreign Affairs and representing Australia in the United Nations Security Council. We discussed her career, foreign affairs, and her perspective on current and future national security trends.

Episode SIX: An introduction to terrorism

For almost as long as history, terrorism has existed. A constant in an ever-changing world. With the tragic events of 9/11 catalysing the field as an area of research and study, in this episode we explore the misconceptions and main ideas which lay central to the complex area of terrorism studies. Having the privilege of discussing the topic with expert Sophie Saydan, we delve deep into the concepts evolution, the so-called process of radicalisation, the direct threat posed by terrorism, and so much more…

Episode Seven: Solomon islands security agreement

In the midst of the 2022 Australian Federal Election campaign, the Solomon Islands pressed ahead and signed a security agreement with China lighting a political firestorm. The agreement between Honiara and Beijing is just one of the many steps in China’s growing power and expansive ambitions. What are the security implications and what does this all mean for the region broadly and more importantly for those in Canberra? Dr Benjamin Herscovitch joins us this week to discuss the Solomon Islands Chinese Security agreement and its strategic implications for China, Australia and the region.

Episode eight: peace & conflict: An Introduction to interventions

Interventions are fraught with risk. Risk for those providing assistance. Risk for those on the ground. Exploring the nuances of success, the idea of fragile states, and the means of accountability, this podcast provides listeners with the important contextual understanding of such a complex topic. This week, we had the privilege of being joined by distinguished academic and practitioner, Dr. Nicholas Lemay-Hébert to discuss some of the field’s most complex questions.

Episode nine: why we are not prepared for a cyber crisis

Cyber is evolving rapidly, with threats increasing in sophistication as they exploit the vulnerabilities in critical infrastructure, defence capabilities, and knowledge. Both governments and the private sector face the struggle of addressing cyber crises and their ramifications with limited purview and waning resources. It is clear that the approach to cybersecurity must be adapted to be more resilient to the field’s growing complexity, however, first we must understand the threats we face. In the first of two podcasts on cyber, Dave Cohen, General Manager of the Cyber-Tech Institute of Australia, sheds light on vulnerabilities, resilience, and concerns for the future.

Episode ten: Follow the Money: An intro to countering terrorist financing

This year is the 20th anniversary of the Bali bombings. In this episode, we are joined by Sylvia Laksmi, an Indonesian national, former financial intelligence analyst and counter-terrorism expert. We discuss Indonesia’s counter-terrorism program, expanding cooperation between Indonesia and Australia to combat terrorism at its source and the challenges in tracking financial flows to terrorist organizations.

Episode eleven: discussing Australia’s cyber vulnerabilities and resilience

In a discussion with Fergus Hanson from ASPI (Australian Strategic Policy Institute), cyber policy, vulnerabilities, attacks, and resilience are explored with in-depth examples and hypotheticals. Situations like life-threatening cyber attacks are explored, alongside various other discussion points like policy targeted towards different threat actors, how to manage a situation in which victims (of cybercrime) are prosecuted due to suggested ransom-payment laws, recent data breaches like Medibank and Optus, the intertwining of information technology with operational technology, and various others. Understanding how Australia can become a cyber-resilient society is vitally important for our future leaders because every year, Australians are haemorrhaging billions to cyber criminals and as our society becomes more and more reliant on technology, we also become increasingly vulnerable.

Episode twelve: confronting crisis: Why Australia needs to have a serious debate on universal service

Over the last three years, Australia has relied heavily on its defence force to respond to non-military related crises arising from bushfires, floods, and the pandemic. In this episode, former Chief of the Australian Defence Force (1998-2002) Admiral (Retired) Chris Barrie outlines why this is problematic for both military preparedness and national resilience, and proposes that a universal service scheme involving Australia’s young people might better
prepare Australia for a range of crises in the future.