The territory government wants to increase Canberra’s slice of the national defence budget pie, in an effort to boost employment and diversify the ACT’s economy.
In a launch event in Fyshwick, Chief Minister Andrew Barr unveiled two new boards, designed to “ensure that the Canberra region benefits from the Commonwealth Government’s commitment to increased defence expenditure.”
The boards, called the ACT Defence Industry Advisory Board and the Canberra Region Defence Industry Capability Directory, will be staffed with former top brass, industry figures and academics.
Both boards will be purely advisory and report through former senator Kate Lundy, who has been appointed ACT Defence Industry Advocate. Her new job will involve engaging stakeholders as well as advocating for defence and its role in Canberra.
The defence industry is a major employer in the ACT. The Department of Defence alone accounts for $3.1 billion of Canberra’s economy and supports 16,800 jobs. The figures double when related industries are included.
“There are a couple of areas that are really key for us that quite closely align with the capabilities that we’ve currently got but also with our educational institutions,” a spokesperson for Chief Minister Andrew Barr said.
“It’s particularly important that we’re engaging with the research and the people coming out of ANU, UC and cybersecurity.”