Australian Strategic Policy Institute

Coordinates: 35°18′28″S 149°08′08″E / 35.30790°S 149.13559°E / -35.30790; 149.13559

The Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) is a defence and strategic policy think tank based in Canberra, Australian Capital Territory, founded by the Australian government and partly funded by the Australian Department of Defence.

Australian Strategic Policy Institute
40 Macquarie St Barton June 2012.JPG
ASPI's offices are located at 40 Macquarie Street in the Canberra suburb of Barton
Formation2001; 19 years ago (2001)
Purposethink tank
HeadquartersBarton, Canberra, ACT
FieldsDefence and strategic policy


ASPI was first established in 2001 under Prime Minister John Howard to provide "policy-relevant research and analysis to better inform Government decisions and public understanding of strategic and defence issues".[1] ASPI was officially launched at ANZAC Hall at the Australian War Memorial on March 13, 2002[2] by then Australian Minister for Defence, Sen the Hon Robert Hill.[citation needed]

ASPI's inaugural director was Hugh White, who served as director from 2001 to 2004. White was Deputy Secretary for Strategy and Intelligence at the Australian Department of Defence between 1995 and 2000, and previously worked for the Office of National Assessments and as an adviser to Prime Minister Bob Hawke and Defence Minister Kim Beazley. White is now Emeritus Professor of Strategic Studies at the Australian National University.[citation needed]

White was succeeded by Major General (retired) Peter Abigail in April 2005. Abigail is a former senior Australian Army officer whose positions included Deputy Chief of Army (1998–2000) and Land Commander Australia (2000–02). Abigail served as Executive Director of ASPI until 2012.[citation needed]

Current leadershipEdit

In February 2012, the Minister for Defence Stephen Smith announced the appointment of Peter Jennings PSM as ASPI's new Executive Director.[3] Jennings assumed the role of Executive Director in May 2012. Jennings "has worked at senior levels in the Australian Public Service on defence and national security. Career highlights include being Deputy Secretary for Strategy in the Defence Department (2009-12); Chief of Staff to the Minister for Defence (1996-98) and Senior Advisor for Strategic Policy to the Prime Minister (2002-03)".[4]


ASPI was established by the Australian Government in 2001 as a company limited by guarantee under the 2001 Corporations Act.[5] ASPI receives partial funding from the Department of Defence "with other sources of revenue including sponsorship, commissioned tasks, a membership scheme, sale of publications, advertising and event registration fees."[6]

The share of ASPI's funding provided by the Department of Defence decreased from 100 percent in the 2000-01 financial year to 43 percent in the 2018-19 financial year. Other government entities are the next-largest source of funding, and it receives funding from a large number of private companies for specific areas of analysis or individual reports. ASPI also accepts sponsorship from companies. ASPI's 2018-19 annual report states that it received some funding from the Embassy of Japan and Taipei Economic and Cultural Office in Australia, as well as from state governments and defence companies, such as Lockheed Martin, BAE Systems, Northrop Grumman, Thales Group, and Raytheon Technologies.[7][8]


ASPI regularly publishes a range of different publications. ASPI currently publishes three different kinds of reports:

  • Strategies
  • Strategic Insights
  • Special Report

ASPI also publishes The Strategist, a daily analysis and commentary site. The Strategist aims to "provide fresh ideas on Australia's critical defence and strategic policy choices as well as encourage and facilitate discussion and debate among the strategy community and Australian public."[9]


ASPI has been described as one Australia’s most influential national security policy think tanks.[10] Its work has been described as impressive (by the Australian Financial Review)[8] and groundbreaking (by the National Review)[11].

The institute has drawn praise and criticism from serving and former Australian politicians. A February 2020 article in the Australian Financial Review said that ASPI was criticised by Senator Kim Carr for taking funding from the United States Department of State to track Chinese research collaborations with Australian universities while former foreign minister Bob Carr accused it of having “one-sided, pro-American view of the world”[8]; it also said that the institute had many supporters in the Australian parliament.[8] ASPI in turn responded directly[12] to these criticisms[13], saying "ASPI doesn’t have an editorial line on China, but we have a very clear method for how we go about our research."[14]

In June 2020, the ASPI was criticised by Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman, Zhao Lijian for saying that the Chinese government was behind a spike in cyber attacks against the Australian government and Australian businesses.[15] In response, ASPI executive director Peter Jennings said the ministry's comments were an attempt to distract attention from the think tank's research into the Chinese Government.[15] This followed Australia’s PM informing the public that a cyber actor was currently carrying out a sophisticated cyberattack against Australian government bodies and private companies, the comments were believed to be a warning to China.[16]

In October 2018, the Australian Digital Transformation Agency criticised an ASPI report on the Australian Government's digital identity program. The Agency stated that the report "was inaccurate and contained many factual errors", and which "demonstrate a clear misunderstanding of how the digital identity system is intended to work".[10] The author of the report responded to the criticism, saying his concerns were acknowledged in private despite being publicly rejected by the agency.[17]


  1. ^ "Charter". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Archived from the original on 28 August 2019. Retrieved 28 August 2019.
  2. ^ "Launch of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Archived from the original on 7 May 2016.
  3. ^ Smith, Stephen. "Minister for Defence". Archived from the original on 10 May 2012. Retrieved 29 June 2012.
  4. ^ "Peter Jennings". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Archived from the original on 9 January 2019. Retrieved 9 January 2019.
  5. ^ "Company Constitution". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Archived from the original on 7 April 2016. Retrieved 22 April 2016.
  6. ^ "About ASPI". Australian Strategic Policy Institute. Archived from the original on 3 April 2016. Retrieved 3 April 2016.
  7. ^ Australian Strategic Policy Institute (2019). "Annual Report 2018-19" (PDF). Annual Report. Canberra: Australian Strategic Policy Institute: 18–21. ISSN 2651-8694. Archived (PDF) from the original on 29 April 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2020.
  8. ^ a b c d Robin, Myr (15 February 2020). "The think tank behind Australia's changing view of China". Australian Financial Review. Archived from the original on 17 February 2020. Retrieved 17 February 2020.
  9. ^ "About, The Strategist". Australian Strategic Policy Institute.
  10. ^ a b Julian Bajkowski. "DTA attacks China-style social credit claims about Govpass digital identity?". Archived from the original on 5 December 2019. Retrieved 24 September 2019.
  11. ^ QUINN, JIMMY (24 June 2020). "China vs. the Australian Strategic Policy Institute". national review.
  12. ^ "ASPI's China research: the big picture". ASPI. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  13. ^ Duckett, Chris. "Tech giants push back on forced Uyghur labour claims". ZDNET. The think tank has drawn criticism from the likes of Labor Party factional warrior and former minister Kim Carr. "[ASPI] berates Australian researchers for collaborating with Chinese partners but ignores the fact that some of its own sponsors do the same," Carr said last month. Defending the organisation, director of the International Cyber Policy Centre at ASPI, Fergus Hanson, said there is no editorial line on China in the reports it produces. "Of course, ASPI has no monopoly on the ability to trawl through CCP policy documents and statements to unearth new insights and shed light on the party's stated plans for China and the rest of the world. It's just that so few others in Australia and elsewhere invest significant time to do so," he wrote on Tuesday.
  14. ^ "ASPI's China research: the big picture". ASPI. Retrieved 3 March 2020.
  15. ^ a b "China denies being behind cyber attack on Australia". 19 June 2020. Retrieved 19 June 2020.
  16. ^ Stone, Jeff. "Australia blames a state actor for major disruptions. China is already denying it". Cyber Scoop. Retrieved 1 July 2020.
  17. ^ Hendry, Justin (8 August 2019). "ASPI's Hanson claims DTA misled on digital ID concerns". ITNEWS.

External linksEdit