Advanced Strategic Research Agency pledged by Labor
A new defence research agency to back cutting-edge projects and technologies such as next-generation jet fighters and robots would be created if Labor wins the federal election as national security continues to dominate the campaign.
Labor leader Anthony Albanese and his defence spokesman Brendan O’Connor will on Thursday pledge to establish the Advanced Strategic Research Agency, which they say would bring Australia into line with the United States and Britain.
The announcement is a further sign that Labor is looking to take the Coalition on over its traditional domain of national security after a week of criticising Prime Minister Scott Morrison for not doing enough to stop the security deal between China and Solomon Islands.
Based on the US’s Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA), Labor’s version would be established within Defence to “fund pivotal research in breakthrough technologies for national security”.
DARPA’s recent work includes research into unmanned anti-submarine vessels, sixth-generation jet fighters, robotic spacecraft, hypersonic missiles and identifying deepfakes.
Going back further, famous examples of its work being commercialised include the internet, the computer mouse, GPS, and Siri. DARPA funded the development of the Advanced Research Projects Agency Network (ARPANET) – a precursor to the internet – in the late 1960s, which had the initial purpose of linking computers over telephone lines.
Britain also recently created its own version called the Advanced Research and Invention Agency.
Labor said the Australian agency would ensure cutting-edge research from public sources, such as universities and industry, and classified research from industry and other government agencies such as CSIRO, are supported and co-ordinated.