Opening address - Land Forces Australia 2021

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The Hon Melissa Price MP

Minister for Defence Industry

Minister for Science and Technology

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1 June 2021

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Being a good neighbour has never been more important.

Regional military modernisation is increasing.

Disruptive technologies are emerging.

Strategic competition is intensifying.

Of course, a lot of this is not new. 

But today, it’s amplified in our increasingly connected, economically interdependent and cyber-reliant world.
These challenges are clearly articulated in the 2020 Defence Strategic Update.

As are the measures we are taking to meet them.

By shaping our strategic environment.

By deterring actions against our interests.

And by responding with credible military force, when required.

Our priority must be to prepare us for whatever the world might throw at us.

And that preparation includes making sure the Australian Defence Force is trained, equipped and ready to mobilise.

That’s just what the ADF is doing. 

It’s getting on with its core business.

And to support it, the Morrison Government is investing $270 billion dollars through to 2030 in new defence capabilities.
Delivering new defence capabilities means strengthening Australia’s defence industrial base.

It means bolstering partnerships between Defence and industry.

As the Minister for Defence Industry, I am working hard to make Australia’s defence industry stronger, more sustainable and more secure.

In this, our security and economic objectives are interwoven.

The Government wants to see a defence industry which is robust – one which is well-supported to develop the skilled workforce needed now, and into the future.

A defence industry which is resilient – one with secure supply chains that help it withstand future shocks.

And a defence industry which is internationally competitive – one which fosters new commercial and export opportunities, especially for our small-to-medium sized businesses.  

In short, we want Australian industry to be able to deliver more of what the ADF needs. 

When it needs it.

In the land domain, $55 billion dollars has been allocated towards enhancing existing capabilities and pushing out new ones.

So that the Australian Army is better connected and protected.  

And, so that our soldiers are more mobile and lethal.

Of course, many Australian companies are contributing to the Army’s combat capability already.

Our industry has many success stories.

I hear about them every day during my engagement with people across industry.

One is the Gold Coast-based Craig International Ballistics.

Founded in 1999, the business started in the Craig family garage.

Today, it specialises in producing military and law enforcement body armour.

In 2014, Craig successfully tendered for a Defence project. 

Defence placed an initial order for hard and soft body armour to the value of $59 million dollars.

Since then, the business has supplied more than 350,000 items and training products to the ADF.
I was really pleased to announce funding support for them during the DSEI trade show in London in 2019.

Importantly, the business – which today employees 35 people – has diversified.

It has secured government and Defence contracts to supply armour for protected mobility vehicles, frigates, patrol boats and helicopters. 

Craig’s success has seen it export body armour and panels to South East Asian and Oceania countries.

And it has established a joint venture with U.K. company, 
Coo-neen Protection.

Then there’s Haulmark Trailers and Holmwood Highgate – each with headquarters in Brisbane.

Both companies are involved in Land 121 Phases 3B and 5B – replacing the Army and Air Force’s fleet of medium and heavy field vehicles and trailers.

That’s more than 3,700 vehicles, 4,700 modules and 2,500 trailers to support the ADF’s logistics, engineering, and artillery land operations.

This element of the Land 121 project is expected to generate about $500 million dollars’ worth of investment in Australian goods and services.

For Haulmark – a company founded in 1985 – the project has seen it establish a purpose-built facility in Brisbane, expand its presence in Darwin, and open new operations in Adelaide. 
Its latest contract with Defence has created 100 new jobs.

For Holmwood – established in 1950 – its work with Defence has helped it become a national leader in the design and manufacture of bulk liquid storage and transportation systems for fuel and water.

Earlier this month, I was pleased to announce a $30 million contract from Rheinmetall MAN Military Vehicles to Holmwood to manufacture fuel and water modules, supporting ongoing jobs for its 150 Queensland employees.

Last year, Holmwood secured a multimillion dollar contract to develop six mobile aviation tankers for New Zealand’s Ministry of Defence.

While two years ago, it was awarded a U.S. Army petroleum and water systems contract valued at $1 million U.S. dollars. 

Beyond Holmwood, there are many other Australian export success stories.

Examples which have been supported by the Australian Defence Export Office.

Like Australian Performance Vehicles – an automotive business which has previously diversified into the defence sector.
APV’s products – used in U.S. and Australian combat vehicles – have kept troops safe in combat in Afghanistan. 

In 2019, the business received a Defence Global Competitiveness Grant of $150,000.

That grant was a springboard into the North American supply chain.

Today, I am pleased to announce almost $840,000 in Defence Global Competitiveness Grants funding, awarded to six companies – three of which are based here in Queensland.

Heat Treatment, Laserdyne and Intellidesign – who will use the funding for equipment or infrastructure upgrades.

The funding will boost their capacity and their export potential – just as the program supported APV.

Which in turn boosts continued investment and jobs in Australia.
Ladies and gentlemen, these are just a handful of the many success stories within our defence industry.

The many business entering the defence marketplace.

Becoming integral parts of the overall defence supply chain.

Expanding their operations.

Employing Australians.

Nurturing young talent.

Bolstering our industrial base.

Building sovereign capabilities.

And reaching new international markets.

Each day, Australia’s defence industry is getting stronger.

Just as Australia’s defence industry continues to deliver world-leading capability for the Australian Army, so too is it helping prepare the ADF more broadly for a changing world.

I wish all attendees well for this year’s Land Forces Australia conference and exhibition.

And declare “open” Land Forces Australia 2021. 


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