An Australian defence industry which delivers for the Australian defence force: the Hon. Christopher Pyne

“We are actively, unapologetically, leveraging our defence investment to ensure the country’s economic prosperity,” Federal Minister for the Defence Industry, the Hon. Christopher Pyne has told a CEDA audience.

Speaking at the launch for Australia’s place in the world, Mr Pyne discussed the Government’s investments in the defence industry.

“Economics and national security are inextricably linked,” he said.

“Over the next decade, the Turnbull Government will invest $200 billion to strengthen our defence capabilities and evolve and grow an onshore defence industry that fits our strategic requirements.

“This investment signals the largest renewal of defence capability in our peacetime history. It will ensure our defence force is equipped to meet an increasing range of commitments, and importantly, is ready for surprises.

“The Turnbull Government wants a home-based defence industry that is strong and capable, that learns from the best, employs Australians, and is able to keep up with strategic demands.

“We want an industry aligned with Australia’s global and regional position, but not just for today, for decades into the future.

“It must be an Australian defence industry that can deliver the Australian Defence Force the very best capabilities, on time, on budget and onshore.

“Opportunities from this record investment in the defence industry are coming at a very fast pace. In 2016–17, the Australian Government approved 74 capability related proposals. We had planned to approve 62. Only a few years ago we viewed 46 approvals as a great achievement.

“Some sectors are in transition, while disruptive technologies are producing new growth areas. 

“If we are to take advantage of this, and advance Australia’s prosperity well into the 21st century, we must put research, innovation and smart manufacturing to work for us all.

“Our $200 billion investment in defence capability is designed to secure advanced manufacturing jobs here.”

Mr Pyne said that the Government was focused on partnerships with industry, citing Thomas Global Systems as an example. The company worked with the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, which provided assistance through the Global Supply Chain program and Team Defence Australia.

“Thomas Global Systems is a fine example. It develops innovative electronic solutions for aerospace and defence and has a fantastic reputation for providing world-class capabilities. Thomas products are found in the flight decks of commercial aircraft and military land, air and sea platforms, globally,” he said.

“The Global Supply Chain program is a proven success in providing entry into global prime platforms.

“We want more globally competitive companies creating Australian jobs and ensuring the sustainability of our defence industry.”

Mr Pyne also discussed continuing international partnerships. 

“We welcome international prime suppliers in Australia,” he said.

“For the foreseeable future, Australia will continue to acquire many of our major platforms and systems from the United States and our other international partners.

“Their high-tech capabilities are vital to the Australian Defence Force’s success and our inter-operability with our allies.

“Not only do they assist in delivering the advanced warfighting capability we need, they also bring intellectual property, expertise and investment here.

“This in turn creates Australian jobs, enables knowledge transfer, and provides innovative small and medium enterprises with access to global supply chains and export opportunities.

“We are also making a major investment in innovation, providing more opportunities to harness the best Australian ideas.

“$1.6 billion has been committed to boosting the capabilities of the defence industry and innovation over the next decade, including $640 million to support the development of innovative technologies through the Defence Innovation Hub.

“The Hub has been greeted enthusiastically with over 300 innovation proposals since it was launched last December. More than $13 million worth of innovation contracts have already been signed off with Australian industry.

“Such innovation is vital to our long-term success in translating world-class technologies into warfighting capability and advantage for the ADF.”

In addition, Mr Pyne said the government was focused on the Australian naval defence force, including the $90 billion investment in naval shipbuilding.

“For decades, Australia’s shipbuilding industry was plagued by boom and bust cycles that prevented industry from achieving its potential,” he said.

“In short, we are on the cusp of a naval shipbuilding boom. By the middle of the 2020s we will need more than 5000 workers just in Osborne working to build the Future Frigates and the Future Submarines. We will need quadruple that number again across the supply chain.

“Benefits from the Government’s record investment have already started to flow. Recently Hoffman Engineering were chosen by Fincantieri Australia to provide the bow thruster to the Landing Platform Dock for a Middle Eastern Navy. This is the start of work which could lead to up to $250 million worth of work for Hoffman Engineering over the next five years.

“Under the plan, we are strengthening the capabilities and capacity of Australian industry, providing greater opportunities for small and medium enterprises. We are supporting technology transfer from international ship designers and builders to Australian companies.

“This is truly a national endeavour, and to succeed we will need the expertise and resources of industry, every state and territory, and the education and training sectors.”

Speaking on current security challenges, Mr Pyne said: “Movements in global and regional security are, as ever, challenging us all.”

“They are travelling at an ever-faster rate, economically and militarily.

“Terrorism is a fact of life. Attacks by Daesh-inspired groups in the Philippines and similar activity in other parts of the Indo-Pacific underscore this very real threat.

“Domestically, cyber security and cyber-attacks present major economic and security challenges.

“They threaten industry, government and intellectual property.

“They affect the Australian Defence Force’s warfighting capabilities.

“Such circumstances require a potent, capable and adaptable Defence Force. Which means we must have a world-class defence industry, and a sound, sovereign capability.”

Looking ahead, Mr Pyne said the government will release the Defence Industrial Capability Plan early next year, outlining their 10 year vision for growing defence industry. 

“The Capability Plan is designed to give industry the tools to help inform its future decisions, and will outline our initial Sovereign Industrial Capabilities,” he said.

“In today’s global environment, Australia – indeed no country – can be entirely self-sufficient, and even if it were technically possible, we couldn’t afford it.

“The sovereign industrial capabilities will be a subset of a defence industry policy that focuses on maximising opportunities for Australian industry to meet all of our defence capability needs.

“Positioning us as a high-tech manufacturing nation rests on our ability to develop and export globally innovative products.

“This is why the Government will release its Defence Export Strategy by the end of this year. The strategy will provide a comprehensive roadmap for our defence industry to enjoy greater success overseas.”

Also speaking at the event was Australia's place in the world report contributor, Professor Michael Wesley.

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Read CEDA’s research, Australia’s place in the world