20 February 2023

Industry group calls for engagement on Defence Strategic Review findings

| Andrew McLaughlin
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Sir Angus Houston, Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles

Sir Angus Houston delivers the Defence Strategic Review to Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Deputy Prime Minister and Defence Minister Richard Marles on 14 February. Photo: PMO.

A leading defence industry body has welcomed news of the delivery of the Defence Strategic Review (DSR) to government, and has called for an opportunity to review the report, and for clarity in the delivery of its findings.

In a 15 February release, the Australian Industry and Defence Network (AIDN) congratulated Prime Minister Anthony Albanese and Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defence Richard Marles in delivering the first stage of what it calls a “key election commitment”. It says it looks forward to engaging “in a constructive manner with the Albanese Government, Defence, and industry stakeholders” to ensure any roles for industry that come from the report are “considered in the recommendations” and in the revised defence integrated investment program (IIP) that will follow.

“AIDN’s 1000+ strong membership of Australian SMEs supports any Australian Government initiative that affords the Australian defence industry the opportunity to secure high-end work in all Defence programs,” the release says.

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It adds that it supports in principle a recent initiative from Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy, who said the Government was working towards ensuring that enhanced capability for industry was the measure it would be seeking, rather than a simplistic measure of percentage.

“A highly capable Australian Defence Industry supports the Albanese Government’s ambition of a more self-reliant and a sovereign industrial base, the AIDN release says, adding that it is calling on the Government and the Department of Defence to work closely with industry to “ensure that a comprehensive policy and procurement framework are put in place to achieve this intent”.

It says both the DSR and the report from the Nuclear Submarine Task Force into how Australia plans to acquire a fleet of nuclear-powered attack submarines (SSN) are “hugely significant” reports that will shape the outcomes for Australia both strategically and for the Australian defence industrial base potentially for decades. It says if there isn’t “careful consideration” of the role on the Australian defence industry, then the future of the industry, of defence innovation, and of sovereign advanced manufacturing is at risk.

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“AIDN is proud to demonstrate to Australia’s political leaders that there is a backbone of national resilience and sovereign defence capability in this country, and we are prepared to work side by side with the Albanese Government and the Department of Defence to accelerate capability delivery and build more durable supply chains here onshore,” Brent Clark, AIDN’s CEO said.

“We are keen to ensure that the DSR recommendations ensure our industry has the opportunity to demonstrate the integral role we play in our national economy through our sovereign supply chains, modern manufacturing practices, research and innovation, skills development, and regional employment,” Mr Clark said.

The DSR was authored by former Gillard government defence minister, Stephen Smith and former chief of defence force Sir Angus Houston, and was initiated by the Albanese Government to assess Australia’s defence capability procurement plans and proposed force structure and force posture against current and projected geopolitical and capability threats in the Indo-Pacific region and beyond. Government expects to release an unclassified version of the DSR in the coming months.

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