Address to ADM Congress 2020

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The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

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19 February 2020

Good morning, and welcome to the ADM Congress 2020.

I would like to thank Australian Defence Magazine for hosting today’s event, and in particular acknowledge Katherine for your continued support of our defence industry.

I can’t be with you in person today as I’m hosting a CDIC Roadshow event in Geraldton – encouraging more small businesses just like yourselves to take up the opportunities in our defence industry.

Regional Australia has much to offer, and I’m working hard to ensure they’re aware of the exciting projects we have underway – and how they can benefit.

But as you gather today to talk about all things defence procurement, I wanted to share with you what I’m focused on as Minister for Defence Industry.

After one hundred days in the portfolio, listening to your feedback and getting to know the Department of Defence, I’ve identified five key priorities.

Enhance CASG performance delivery to be a ‘strong client’;

Expand small business access to Defence;

Increase the number of exporting Australian businesses;

Build Australia’s skilled defence industry workforce;

And ensure Defence’s grants, innovation, science and technology programs are contributing to enhancing ADF capability.

To deliver on these priorities, I’ve directed the Secretary and CDF to implement a series of action items.

The intent is to make sure we’re backing Aussie businesses in the defence industry.

We have negotiated, signed and announced the contracts to deliver our major defence capabilities in the years ahead.

Now is the time to deliver.

This is the largest Defence acquisition and sustainment program any Government has ever undertaken in Australia.

We need to ensure CASG remains fit-for-purpose.

They should be well-resourced and well-informed.

After all, their job is to deliver our Government’s $200 billion investment in defence capability.

I want to make sure CASG has people with commercial and private sector experience to guide defence procurement in this vital stage.

We’ve recently announced new senior appointments at CASG who will bring their skills and experience from the private sector – to complement the skills already in the Department of Defence.

This includes a new appointment of Head of AIC – demonstrating our sharp focus on delivering for Australia’s defence industry.

Our investment in defence capability has brought countless opportunities for local industry, but we need to go even further in our support for small business.

As we enter the delivery phase of these major projects, I’m 100 per cent focused on holding the Primes to account on their obligations.

That’s why I’ve directed Defence to establish an independent AIC audit program.

It will investigate and report on whether major contractors are meeting their AIC obligations.

I know this is the primary concern for all of you in the defence industry, and I’ve heard you loud and clear.

It’s important we get this right.

I think we’re doing a good job, but I think we can do better.

The role you have to play is crucial.

Without the thousands of small businesses in our defence industry, we can’t build 57 new vessels;

Or 210 Boxers;

Or 450 new infantry fighting vehicles.

We need you.

So enjoy today, participate in the debates, bring your ideas to the table.

I look forward to following the discussion, and thank you again for your involvement in our defence industry.

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