Minister for Defence Materiel - Opening of the Defence Materials Technology Centre Annual Conference

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The Hon Dan Tehan MP

Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Minister for Defence Personnel

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for Cyber Security

Minister Assisting the Prime Minister for the Centenary of ANZAC

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  • Byron Vale (Minister Tehan’s Office) 0428 262 894
  • Defence Media (02) 6127 1999

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17 March 2016

To channel the Prime Minister, there’s never been a more exciting time to be part of innovation in Defence.

With the recent launch of the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement, it is fitting that we are here today for the annual conference of the Defence Materials Technology Centre, an organisation that has a proven track record of finding innovative solutions for Defence.

The DMTC will play a significant role in how defence and industry benefit from the new investment of the Defence White Paper.

In fact, it’s the work that has been conducted under the CRC model that has shown the possibilities of Defence and industry partnerships.

The Government recognises the important role innovation will play in our future.

We are committed to furthering Australia’s innovative spirit.

This commitment to innovation will be backed by the $1.1 billion investment through the National Innovation and Science Agenda.

This investment will drive smart ideas that will create growth and jobs.

Defence and defence industry can be at the forefront of this commitment to innovation.

We have seen the possibilities when defence and industry work together.

Here in Canberra, the Defence Science and Technology Group devised the black box flight recorder, now found in almost all commercial aeroplanes.

The Defence White Paper, which the Government launched earlier this year, is designed with these kinds of innovative partnerships in mind.

I was proud to accompany my colleagues, the Prime Minister and the Minister for Defence, to the launch of the White Paper.

I was also proud that as part of this we also launched a stand-alone Defence Industry Policy Statement.

The Defence White Paper outlines the Government’s investment in approximately $195 billion in Defence capability across the decade to 2025-26.

And it’s worth just emphasising that figure again, approximately $195 billion across the forward decade.

This is a comprehensive and fully costed investment, which covers everything from submarines, offshore patrol vessels, air-to-air refuellers, the Joint Strike Fighter. And I was talking to Tony about this before we began, what we’re seeing already with Australian industry’s involvement in the Joint Strike Fighter is an absolute credit to the Australian defence industry and I think all bodes well for not only our local defence industries future with projects like that, but when it comes to technology advancements that we’re going to see in the future, especially when it comes to unmanned technology, we stand to be at the forefront of that.

It’s also involved in personal equipment and force protection for our soldiers, vehicles and very importantly cyber security.

The Defence Industry Policy Statement clearly outlines how this investment will provide opportunities for businesses and for innovators.

The significant investment restores confidence in Defence’s long term funding, giving certainty to Australian industry.

And that’s especially so when we record that only a few years ago when Defence spending as a proportion of GDP was hitting levels we hadn’t seen since 1938.

The new 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement centres on a $1.6 billion investment in the relationship between Defence and defence industry.

A key message in the Government’s Defence Industry Policy Statement is the clear knowledge that Australian defence industry is fundamental to the development of Defence capability.

And that was a key take-out from the Defence White Paper – Australian defence industry is fundamental to the development of Defence capability.

The new Defence Industry Policy Statement will strengthen the partnership and collaboration to ensure Defence gets the equipment, systems and personnel it needs.

$230 million will establish the Centre for Defence Industry Capability.

Based in Adelaide, the CDIC will promote defence industry competitiveness, guide priorities across defence industry, and connect Defence capability with innovation.

Where Defence has a need that requires industry to adapt or gain skills, the CDIC will look to train workers to fill that gap.

$640 million will be used to create the Defence Innovation Hub.

This Hub will enable Defence industry to collaborate with Defence from concept, through prototyping and testing to introduction into service.

As many of you are well aware, sometimes it takes different angles or points of view to find the answer to a puzzle.

Extending on the success of the DMTC, the Defence Innovation Hub will bring together our best minds from industry, academia and defence to crack Defence’s equipment problems and find local solutions by using technology that already exists.

The $640 million in funding for the Innovation Hub includes an additional $4 million for the DMTC.

We know that the greatest defence capability advances often come from pushing the boundaries of current technology or pursuing the next generation of technology.

With $730 million, a Next Generation Technologies Fund will be established to leverage the research and development of new and next generation science and technology to build Defence’s capabilities.

Investing in areas of high potential to deliver game-changing capabilities critical to defence and national security, the Next Generation Technologies Fund will be managed by the Defence Science and Technology Group.

They will build collaborative research and development programs that bring Australian industry, academia, publicly funded research agencies and other areas of Defence and Government together.

Through these initiatives we are making innovation the priority in Defence.

It is transforming Defence’s approach to innovation, and creating a seamless link between capability needs, smart ideas and innovation in Australian industry.

A strong, competitive and sustainable Australian defence industry is vital to supporting Defence, and Australian military innovation will spur greater economic activity, bringing benefits to local businesses and communities across Australia.

And this is another extremely important point. Given the level of investment the Government is embarking on, an additional $30 billion over the next decade, it is going to be absolutely essential that we bring the Australian community along with us. And this is a key role that all in this room are going to have to help Government play in doing this, because we have to make sure that this money does bring the benefits that we all know that it can.

The Government has confidence in our innovation partners to be able to do this.

The DMTC itself offers a great example of what can be achieved through closer collaboration between Defence and industry.

The DMTC, Defence Science and Technology Group, Civmec Pty Ltd, the University of Wollongong and the Australian Nuclear Science and Technology Organisation teamed to develop the Tandem Gas Metal Arc welding method which has improved weld quality and increased shipyard productivity. Whilst the focus of its development was the Air Warfare Destroyer, the applications and benefits of this technology are far reaching.

This work was recognised receiving the Maritime Australia 2015 National Defence Innovation Award.

And there are other examples:

  • DMTC’s work on power generation and storage technologies to increase electrical payload capabilities of the Australian Defence Force’s land vehicles. Potentially enabling the use of onboard power to dismounted combatants and improving the storage capacity of the vehicles for extended mission durations. This is literally allowing our troops to take more power into the field.
  • DMTC’s work to improve Australia’s resilience against blast and ballistic protection through computer modelling for vehicles to enhance their protection.
  • In the maritime domain, DMTC’s work to improve Australia’s involvement in the global supply of critical sonar manufacturing elements.
  • Within the air domain, DMTC’s continued work across a range of manufacturing and sustainment technologies in relation to the Joint Strike Fighter Global Supply Chain program.

These are excellent examples of innovation activities that are actively improving Australia’s industrial base capacity to support major acquisitions programs such as LAND 400, SEA 5000 and SEA 1000.

I met with the Chief of Army yesterday and we were talking about the LAND 400 program, and he was talking then about the need for us to be able to test what is provided to the Army. I’m sure some of the technology that you’ve already created will be used in that testing to make sure we get the vehicles we need.

These are just a few examples of the enduring tools, techniques and technologies that are being used to provide the Australian Defence Force with a competitive edge.

The initiatives in the 2016 Defence Industry Policy Statement will build upon capabilities, such as the DMTC, to continue to focus and optimise for Defence outcomes.

On this note I would like to thank you, the DMTC and its partnering organisations for the excellent work that you have done and continue to do.

And can I reiterate the important role that you’ll all play in making sure that this new investment in Defence has the backing of all the people in the Australian community, given the nature of the investment that we are committing.

It is the work that gets done here and elsewhere that has set an example for the Defence White Paper.

It is an example that will use innovation to deliver growth and deliver jobs for Defence and the economy.

I will conclude there. I wish you well for your conference. I hope that you will come up with more innovative ideas, more ways for us to progress Defence technology and Defence innovation and I thank you for the honour of being able to come and be here for the opening of this conference. And like I said at the start, I look forward to building a relationship with you all over time in the hope that we can make sure Defence and defence industry is one of the key growth sectors in our economy.

Thank you very much.


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