SYDNEY, Jan. 23 (Xinhua) -- With a new seat as a non-permanent member of the U.N. Security Council and the controversy of a growing U.S. military presence on Australian soil, Prime Minister Julia Gillard has included measures to counter cyber-terrorism in her new security strategy unveiled Wednesday in Canberra.
The establishment of a specialized Australian cyber defense center was Gillard's key announcement in her landmark security speech identifying the emerging dangers of online assaults from state and non-state actors as one of three key pillars of Australia's security strategy alongside espionage and foreign interference.
Brushing aside criticism from the opposition Coalition, Gillard said the exploitation of core national computer networks across government and corporate Australia was now a national priority.
Due to come online before the end of the year, Gillard said the center would unite resources from Defense, the Attorney-General's Department, the Crime Commission, Australia's intelligence community and the Federal Police.
"It will provide Australia with an expanded and more agile response capability to deal with all cyber issues - be they related to government or industry, crime or security," Gillard said in Canberra.
"It will also create a hub for greater collaboration with the private sector, state and territory governments and international partners to combat the full breadth of cyber threats," Gillard said.
However, Shadow Minister for Defense Science, Technology and Personnel Stuart Robert said that without providing any new funding, the speech would amount to little.
"The Prime Minister's decision to make her first national security statement during an election year is being driven by political desperation rather than any strategic necessity," Robert said.
Despite Australia's rank as among the top 15 nations for absolute defense spending (and second only to the United States on a per capita basis) Robert lambasted the Prime Minister for reducing defense spending "to its lowest level since 1938."
"No amount of talking about defense and national security issues in an election year can make up for the lack of interest Julia Gillard has shown throughout her time as Prime Minister," Robert claimed.
During her speech, the Prime Minister also singled out Iran and North Korea as traditional security risks for global stability and regional security.
"The proliferation of weapons of mass destruction, specifically Iran's nuclear program and North Korea's continuing missile and nuclear programs, are serious threats to world peace and regional stability," she said.
The Gillard government has already committed substantial funding to strengthen Australia's cyber capabilities, including 1. 46 billion Australian dollars (up until 2020) to bolster the most sensitive networks.
Gillard said that while the regional strategic landscape was becoming more crowded and complex, Australia remained optimistic that the two major players -- China and the U.S. -- were capable of managing the most important international relationship.
It also remains true that it is the relationship between China and the United States that more than any other will determine the temperature of regional affairs in coming decades," Gillard said.
Gillard continued, "We remain optimistic about the ability of China and the United States to manage change in the region, but their relationship inevitably brings with it strategic competition as China's global interests expand."
Australia, the world's twelfth largest economy, boasts a seat on the G20 and secured its hosting last year.
With a non-permanent seat on the United Nations Security Council, Australia is seeking to position itself at the center of international security organizations.
Ghali Hassan, an independent political analyst, said that strategically, Australia erred last year in permitting thousands of U.S. marines to be stationed in Darwin which was announced by U. S President Barack Obama as part of the much noted "pivot to Asia".
Hassan said that with the U.S. already operating surveillance stations in Western Australia, the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean, Australia is already on the U.S. bandwagon and "remains hostage to U.S. aggressive policies."
"Despite Australia's heavy reliance on China as an export market for Australian raw materials, Australia backs the U.S. in its aggressive policy of 'containing' China, by force if necessary, " Hassan said.
However, Gillard indicated further joint military exercises and high-level military exchanges with China would be central to any future security strategy.