Opinion Piece - WA stands to gain from defence boost

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The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

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Charlotte Butler: 0406 338 521

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15 July 2019

As I welcomed home the brave crew of HMAS Ballarat in Perth yesterday, after more than eight months at sea, I was reminded that, as one ship returns home, the Australian Government has plans for dozens more new vessels to protect us.

The Ballarat is part of a great Aussie success story. The Anzac-class frigate spent months in the Middle East where she was central in the seizure of more than a billion dollars worth of illegal drugs and nearly half a million rounds of small-arms ammunition.

Her service has been exemplary. Now we look to the next generation of defence capability.  The Morrison Government will invest $35 billion in replacing the Anzac-class with nine advanced Hunter-class frigates.  This will give Australia some of the world’s most advanced anti-submarine vessels.

Our Naval Shipbuilding Plan will also result in 12 future submarines and 12 offshore patrol vessels, all built in Australia by Australians and using Australian steel. It is one of the largest manufacturing projects in our history.  Thousands of Australian small businesses will benefit.

From Perth to The Kimberley, WA is critical to Australia’s national security and our strategic intentions for the Indo-Pacific region. 

Already, there are about 3,500 small businesses and over 30,000 hardworking Australians across the nation that build, sustain and enable the work of our military. As the new Minister for Defence Industry, my job is to deliver more jobs and greater opportunities for small business, as we continue to invest $200 billion in defence capability. 

I want these innovative, world-leading projects to be delivered on time, on budget and with designs and quality that is valued by servicemen and women. Whether it is a global defence company or a small Australian business, I want to create opportunities for all to get involved in the sector while holding them accountable for their work. My priority, will be Australian projects delivered by Australian workers using Australian materials and good Aussie ‘know-how and ingenuity’.

In WA, we are already seeing exciting concepts and projects grow and take shape. The Centre for Defence Industry Capability, the front door to do business with Defence, has already awarded more than $1.2 million in grants to 15 WA-based companies. Our Defence Innovation Hub has awarded two contracts to WA-based companies with a combined value of $3.1 million.

Recently I was at the opening of the Defence Science Centre in Perth, which the Morrison Government is providing $250,000 for in its first year. This is the Government delivering on our promises to open up more opportunities for WA businesses in all parts of our defence industry.

I am also determined to unlock WA’s innovation potential. In particular, this means grabbing the imagination of children and students to explain the exciting prospect of a career in our defence industry, as tomorrow’s workforce is in our schools today. 

WA is well-positioned to take advantage of the transformation underway in our defence industry. Our industry here in the West is already strong and able to leverage the large adjacent mining and energy sectors.

Our National Naval Shipbuilding Enterprise will create more than 15,000 jobs in Australia. The Henderson Maritime Precinct here in WA is crucial to delivering elements of the Navy’s future capability. 

At the election, the PM and our new Minister for Defence, WA colleague Linda Reynolds, announced the Liberal National Government’s commitment to construct two mine hunter vessels and a hydrographic military survey vessel, furthering our commitment to WA jobs and our shipbuilding industry. I am also determined to open up new opportunities for WA businesses in all parts of the Morrison Government’s investment in the defence industry.

WA is Australia’s gateway to the Indian Ocean and is perfectly placed to be an export hub into the Indo-Pacific. Together with the Australian Defence Export Advocate, WA's David Johnston, we will work hard to pursue and secure export opportunities.

Together with Senator Reynolds, this state has two strong advocates for the defence industry.  As a result, not only will the WA economy benefit from a strong and sovereign defence industry, but so too will our nation.

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