Growth 57: The Business of Defence - Sustaining Capability

This major CEDA report finds that more transparency in relationships between the Australian Defence Force and the businesses that supply it will produce better strategic and economic outcomes.


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Report highlights

It's clear that Australian-based businesses have a vital contribution to make in sustaining Australia's defence forces. Now the Defence Force needs to ensure that businesses supplying it with goods and services have more clarity and certainty about what Defence intends to do and buy.

This is a tough challenge in a world where Defence is now being asked to take on various roles in places from Afghanistan to the Solomon Islands.

CEDA suggests that a high-level Defence Industry Council, similar to that in the UK, could play an important role in delivering this close yet transparent relationship at a strategic level.

Among the key themes of the nine papers:

  • Defence needs to clearly identify those capabilities that must be maintained within Australia, particularly for through-life maintenance and systems integration.
  • Government has an important role to play in facilitating alliances between local suppliers and large international military suppliers to maximise the benefits of global markets.
  • Capability Plans introduced by Defence in recent years have been only partly successful and should be reviewed.
  • Australian innovation in science and technology should be more highly recognised for its contribution to Defence capability and could be further exploited to competitive advantage.

The report acknowledges the tensions that exist between sustaining military capability in a cost-effective way and ensuring the private sector delivers the investment and innovation required.

About the report

The report, The Business of Defence - Sustaining Capability, contains nine papers from leading experts in the defence field. Among the contributors are Professor Paul Dibb and former Defence Chief Chris Barrie.

The report was launched by the Defence Minister, Brendan Nelson, at CEDA's Business of Defence conference in Adelaide. Conference speakers included: Lieutenant-General David Hurley, chief of the Department of Defence's Capability Development Group; Catherine Baldwin, CEDA Chief Executive; and Professor Paul Dibb, chairman of the Advisory Board at the ANU's Strategic and Defence Studies Centre.

Reaction to the report

"A set of thought-provoking essays on Australia's defence industry ... 'The Business of Defence' offers a broad analysis of defence-industry needs and contains some persuasive arguments about the changes needed to the support systems of the Australian Defence Force."

- Allan Behm, writing inthe August/September edition of The Diplomat