Australia’s geostrategic circumstances are in a greater state of flux than seen in generations. Great power contestation has flared and the rules-based order is in question, while environmental catastrophe looms and governance challenges, ranging from cyber attacks, foreign interference, terrorism and transnational crime, flourish. In reflecting on how the Australian Defence Force (ADF) should respond, traditional thinking about conventional military capabilities for the defence of Australia or forward defence is no longer adequate. A more holistic reassessment is called for. This paper considers the nation’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats; in so doing, it presents an argument for establishing a national institute of net assessment. In turn, that institute needs to place as top priority consideration on a range of proposals to bolster capabilities to defend the nation and its interests. Significant increase in defence expenditure and bold new recruitment and funding initiatives are necessary.