Former ASIO head and Commonwealth Secretary join ANU

7 July 2021

These are two of the most respected and experienced leaders in this country's policy community

Two of Australia's leading national security and intelligence experts, Dr Heather Smith and Major General Duncan Lewis, have joined The Australian National University (ANU).

Both have been appointed to academic roles in the ANU National Security College (NSC).

Dr Smith, who served as Secretary of the Department of Industry, Innovation and Science from 2017 to 2020, will join NSC as a Professor and work on the relationship between geoeconomics and security.

Major General Lewis, who led the Australian Security Intelligence Organisation (ASIO) from 2014 to 2019, has been appointed a Professor in the Practice of National Security. 

NSC Head Professor Rory Medcalf welcomed the appointments, saying they were another "clear signal of the growing role of the College and ANU in informing policy debate about Australia's future".

"These are two of the most respected and experienced leaders in this country's policy community, and will be exceptional mentors to our students," Professor Medcalf said.

"Heather Smith combines academic depth as an economist with wide experience of the national security community, including as a Commonwealth Secretary and in senior intelligence and foreign policy roles. Her appointment reinforces the place of ANU as a centre of gravity in understanding the rising challenge of the use of economic weight for strategic leverage.

"Duncan Lewis was the national security adviser behind the establishment of the College, and played a key part in shaping this institution as the national asset it has become. The breadth of his career, including as Director General of ASIO, gives him an acute awareness of Australia's changing security environment and our options to manage it."

Vice-Chancellor Professor Brian Schmidt said the two new academic appointments would help ANU fulfil its distinct national mission to improve the lives of all Australians.

"Both Duncan and Heather bring a wealth of expertise and knowledge when it comes to national security and intelligence," Professor Schmidt said.  

"They have both been at the frontline of keeping Australia safe and secure in a world defined by increased and more complex threats.

"I am delighted that both have agreed to join NSC and ANU and look forward to seeing how they drive our vital work in this ever increasingly important domain."

Dr Smith has had nearly 20 years' experience in the Australian Public Service at senior levels, covering economic, industry, innovation, communications, resources, foreign affairs, national security and intelligence matters.

"Australia's capacity to project power and influence are heavily impacted by the interaction of domestic economic success and far-sighted international engagement," she said.

"If either is given too little attention, we run the risk of confronting emerging challenges for which we are either not prepared or for which we lack the capability to respond.

"I will be seeking to bring together these economic and strategic dimensions to help the next generation of public and private sector leaders navigate Australia's place in the world in an era of unprecedented strategic rivalry.

"This period of great uncertainty could unfold in many ways. Perhaps the best we can hope for is an era of competitive coexistence."            

Major General Lewis, who enjoyed a 47-year career with the Australian Government both in and out of uniform, will work to enhance the already strong ties between NSC and government practitioners and experts.   

"I am delighted and honoured to take up the position as Professor of Practice at the ANU National Security College," he said.

"Australia's strategic outlook is more uncertain than at any time in my working life.  I look forward to contributing to the development of our present and next generation of strategic leaders in the field of national security.

"I was proud to have been involved in the founding of the National Security College more than a decade ago. Since that time, I have been impressed with the way in which the College and ANU have contributed to national security scholarship and thought on policy development.

"The work of the College is now a significant part of Australia's national security capability."

Established in 2009, the National Security College is a joint initiative of the Commonwealth Government and ANU, and makes a major contribution to the development of the nation's security and policy workforce. This includes short courses for government officials, master's and PhD degree programs, futures analysis, policy publications, outreach and dialogue.