Defence and Industry Conference 2020

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The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

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15 October 2020

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Good morning everyone and welcome to the Defence and Industry Conference and Essington Lewis Awards.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to the conference organisers, Tony Fraser and his team at CASG, for the great work they have done in pulling together this event.

I would also like to thank Katherine and her team at Australia Defence Magazine for their excellent work as well.

This has certainly been a challenging year for our defence industry, throwing unprecedented hurdles at our fellow Australians.

We have had to overcome and rebuild from the impacts of devastating bushfires, floods, droughts and now the economic and health impacts of COVID-19.

But in the face of this adversity, the Australian defence industry has done remarkably well.

Last summer, bushfires ravaged our country, affecting families and businesses and leaving many without homes and livelihoods.

Not only did our Defence Force do an outstanding job supporting the efforts to combat the bushfires and help get Australia back on its feet.

It was you, our defence industry, which rose to the occasion, throwing your support behind our servicemen and women to help them respond to this disaster in a more prepared way.

Then the COVID-19 pandemic came to our shores.

The devastating health and economic impacts of this virus continues to effect all Australians.

I know it has been an incredibly difficult time, including for you and your businesses. 

But the way in which our industry has fought through this period – with great success - has been truly heroic.

It is important to recongise your incredible efforts in response to this crisis.

So I would like to thank you all for your continued leadership and dedication in overcoming the impacts of COVID-19.

I certainly believe that history will record theAustralian defence industry as a true success story once we get to the other side of the pandemic.

In March, our Government established the COVID-19 Defence Industry Support Cell as a central point of contact for industry and defence partners seeking assistance.

Over the course of the pandemic, Defence’s economic investment and partnership with industry has even seen some Australian businesses expand their operations.

For example, BAE Systems have added 30 new employees, including 18 apprentices and 12 former General Motors Holden employees.

Northrop Grumman Australia and Airbus Australia have hired former Qantas and Virgin Australia employees to support the maintenance of defence capabilities.

And since late March, our Government has paid more than 220,000 Defence invoices valued at almost 20 billion dollars.

Of this, more than 13 billion dollars has been paid early to help keep the wheels of our defence industry turning, and keep Australians in jobs.

And in this time we have continued to keep our defence industry informed.

Since late March, I have hosted more than 35 regular calls with major Defence contractors, SMEs, Industry Associations and State and Territory Defence Advocates with senior Defence officials.

These calls have been extremely beneficial. They have enabled us to pass on important updates to industry.

But most importantly, they have also given both Defence and I the chance to hear directly from you, so that we can help solve the major obstacles you need to overcome.

Good news – like the companies advising us of the engineers and other experts they have recruited from displaced sectors, like the airline industry.

And helping to ensure there’s quick and effective support to overcome those state and territory border hurdles which threatened industry productivity.

As some of you may be aware, I recently announced my ‘five pillars’ approach to supporting the Australian defence industry and changing the way we do business with you.

This is the direction I have chosen to take the Defence Industry portfolio in, to ensure we have a stronger defence industry in the years ahead.

It is extremely important that we build a stronger defence industry and change the way we do business with you as our Government invests $270 billion in Defence capability over the next decade.

These five pillars will deliver positive outcomes for Australian businesses in our defence industry and, ultimately, for our ADF.

They are:

  • the creation of a new and enhanced Australian Industry Capability contractual framework
  • the creation of a new Independent AIC Audit Program
  • the update of the guidelines to the Commonwealth Procurement Rules
  • the review of the CDIC
  • and the review of the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting, or ASDEFCON.

My five pillars represent a significant shift in how we do business with industry. They are focused on ensuring we have the right structure and systems in place to support Australian businesses in our defence industry.

Together, we will create more Australian jobs, build up our manufacturing base and deliver the Defence capability our men and women in uniform rely on to keep Australians safe.


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