Royal Australian Air Force
Air Power Development Centre
To guide Air Force into the future
Expertise: Strategic policy, crisis management, international security, international policy
Peter Jennings is the executive director of the Australian Strategic Policy Institute (ASPI) a position he has held since May 2012.
Peter 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 Adviser for Strategic Policy to the Prime Minister (2002-03).
Since May 2012 Peter has expanded ASPI’s role from its original high-quality research on defence to include research on cyber security; policing and international law enforcement, border security, national resilience and counter terrorism studies. Now with around 40 staff and close working relations with Government, Parliament and industry, ASPI is Australia’s leading think-tank on national security.
Peter’s research interests include Australian and regional defence policies, military operations, crisis management, government decision making and future defence capabilities.
Peter led the ‘External Expert Panel’ appointed by Government in early 2014 to advise Ministers and the Defence Department on the Defence White Paper, released in February 2016. Peter is a member of the Australia-Germany Advisory Group, appointed by the Prime Minister and German Chancellor in 2015 to develop closer bilateral relations. He is a member of the Advisory Group on Australia-Africa Relations advising the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade.
Peter has previously held a number Senior Executive Service positions in Defence including First Assistant Secretary International Policy Division, First Assistant Secretary Coordination and Public Affairs and Secretary of the Defence Audit and Risk Committee.
Peter was Director of Programs at ASPI between late 2003 and January 2006 and has taught postgraduate studies on terrorism at the Australian Defence Force Academy (ADFA).
In the Defence Department, Peter has been the Deputy Director of the then titled Defence Imagery and Geospatial Organisation (2002) and head of the Strategic Policy Branch (1998–1999). In late 1999 Peter was co-director of the East Timor Policy Unit, responsible for developing Australia’s policy approaches to the international peacekeeping operation in East Timor. Following that, as an acting First Assistant Secretary, Peter was closely involved in developing the 2000 Defence White Paper.
Peter studied at the London Business School in 2000–2001 as a Sloan Fellow and was awarded a Masters of Science (Management) with Distinction. He has a Master of Arts Degree in International Relations from the Australian National University (1987) and a BA (Honours) in History from the University of Tasmania (1980–1984). He has been a Fulbright Fellow at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (1985). Peter taught politics and international relations at the University of New South Wales/ADFA (1987–1990).
Peter was awarded the Public Service Medal in the Australia Day 2013 Honors list for outstanding public service through the development of Australia's strategic and defence policy, particularly in the areas of Australian Defence Force operations in East Timor, Iraq and Afghanistan. In February 2016 Peter was awarded the French decoration of Knight in the National Order of Legion d’Honneur.
Thriving or just surviving? Australia’s tough choices in a risky strategic age
With just a touch of hyperbole Prime Minister Malcolm Turnbull describes Australia’s strategic outlook as ‘a time when the pace and scale of change is unprecedented in all of human history.’ There is no doubt that strategic change brings risk and uncertainty. Regional trouble-spots and flash-points, the pace of military technological change and challenges to the established global order all put Australia’s position at serious risk. Can Australia secure any advantages for itself in these uncertain times? In this presentation Peter Jennings asks: how can we apply our national strengths towards building a stronger leadership position for Australia in international security? There are opportunities as well as risks in addressing rapid strategic change. The challenge for Australia is to improve its decision-making processes, learn to think laterally, quickly and creatively and play a leadership role in regional and global security. Do we have the collective bottle to step up to the challenges of our strategic environment? Peter will offer some answers as well as explaining the problems that will make the journey far from easy.