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Good morning ladies and gentlemen – and welcome.
Firstly, I acknowledge the Ngunnawal people who are the traditional custodians of this land and I pay respect to their Elders past and present. And as the Minister for Defence, I also pay my deepest respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served our nation, and continue to serve, our nation with such great distinction.
Our participation in the global Joint Strike Fighter program is, without question, an Australian industry achievement – well deserving of today’s celebrations. Our Air Force requires a technologically advanced strike and air combat capability.
One which is capable of defeating threats as far as possible from Australia – and as far as possible from our troops. And that is exactly what the Joint Strike Fighter is now delivering. The Joint Strike fighter is the most capable and best-value fifth generation multi-role fighter to meet Australia’s air power needs.
And it will become, and in fact it is becoming, the backbone of the Royal Australian Air Force’s future air combat operations. Australia is acquiring 72 Joint Strike Fighters and we have three on the way. There are now 30 already in service right here in Australia. The Joint Strike Fighter’s introduction into service is progressing really, really well. Our training unit is preparing to train its first pilots right here in Australia.
It is also now delivering unprecedented economic opportunities for businesses right across our nation. Opportunities that Australian companies are seeing and seizing. Today I have four announcements that celebrate the achievements of many of these wonderful Australian companies.
Firstly, I announce that over 50 Australian companies have signed contracts worth an astonishing $2.7 billion dollars for the global Joint Strike Fighter program. Today, Australian-made parts are installed on every single Joint Strike Fighter globally.
That’s over 600 aircraft – so far.
Every time one of these Joint Strike Fighters takes to the sky – they do so relying on Australian know-how. This is a very deliberate part of the Morrison Government’s plan to strengthen Australia’s sovereign defence industry. But we know, and this government knows, that we can do more.
Every single contract is subject to intense global competition – and our companies are coming out on top. We have created opportunities for Australian companies to contribute to a large and a very longstanding global program. And they will be contributing to this program for many decades to come.
Secondly, today I announce that the Morrison Government has launched a new industry support grants program.
It’s called the Joint Strike Fighter – Industry Support Program. This program will maximise additional opportunities for Australian industry in the multi-decade sustainment phase of the global Joint Strike Fighter program. These high-tech aircraft must not only be built – they also need to be sustained throughout their lives. This creates even more long-term opportunities for Australian businesses and we estimate for 5,000 Australian jobs.
Thirdly, today I am pleased to announce the signing with Lockheed Martin Australia a contract to deliver sovereign Training Support Services for the Joint Strike Fighter right here in Australia. This is growing our sovereign ability to train pilots right here at home. This contract alone is worth up to $100 million. It will support 70 locally-employed ADF personnel who will deliver this training at RAAF Bases Williamtown and Tindal.
And finally, to a wonderful example of how defence industry – supported by this Government – is creating more jobs for Australian workers – as part of the nation’s economic recovery from COVID-19. BAE Systems recently hired 25 Jetstar employees who had been made redundant following the closure of Jetstar’s aircraft maintenance facility near Newcastle.
These highly skilled BAE recruits have now commenced their training to help sustain Australia’s growing fleet of Joint Strike Fighters and also the Hawk Lead in Fighter aircraft.
Not only have these technical workers been retained in the local Hunter aviation industry – they will also now help Defence build its sovereign sustainment capability as the fleet continues to grow.
Ladies and gentlemen, this is what happens when Government has faith and belief in the capability of Australian industry and Australian workers to rise to the challenge. And we know that they will rise to the challenge in the future.
I now invite my very good friend and my wonderful colleague, Melissa Price, the Defence Industry Minister, to outline the crucial role defence industry is playing in building Australia’s industrial sovereign capability.