Address to Australian Defence Information and Electronic Systems Association members

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The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

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Ben Leeson on 0404 648 275

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20 October 2023

I wish to acknowledge the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the land we are meeting on and recognise any other people or families with connection to the lands of the ACT and region.

As the Assistant Minister for Defence and the Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs, I also pay my respects to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander men and women who have served our nation in the past and continue to do so today.

Thank you very much for that introduction, Mike.

Senior Leaders of Defence and the ADF.

Members of ADIESA, friends all.

Thank you for the invitation to join you this evening.

The members of ADIESA deliver some of the ADF’s most important and sensitive capabilities and systems.

I want to take this opportunity to thank you for the contribution you make to our national security to thank Mike and the team for your support for the Defence Strategic Review and to applaud the important and constructive role that ADIESA plays by bringing Defence and industry together to talk through the challenges - and the opportunities - to better protect and defend Australia in the cyber domain.

There is no question that cyberspace is now central to Defence.

Cyber capabilities are fundamental to the ADF’s ability to command and control its forces to defend Australia and its immediate region, to deter and deny adversaries, and protect Australia’s connections to the rest of the world.

And they are essential to a genuine Integrated Force, which harnesses effects across all the five domains of maritime, land, air, space and cyber.

Delivering on our response to the Defence Strategic Review, on 1 July 2023 the Government moved Space Command into Joint Capabilities Group. This means that the Chief of Joint Capabilities is now the domain lead for Space and Cyber, with responsibility for the Strategic J6 and ICT Operations Division transitioning to Joint Capabilities Group.

This restructure strengthens the ADF’s ability to command and control its cyber, information and space capabilities whilst integrating with the other warfighting domains.

And Chris Crozier has been appointed as the new Chief Information Officer.

ICT remains critical to Defence’s modern warfighting capability.

Chris will deliver the strategic refocus on digital Defence needed to meet the ambitious agenda under the Defence Strategic Review.

One of our six priorities for immediate action is to lift our capacity to rapidly translate disruptive new technologies into ADF capability, in close partnership with Australian industry.

We are making considerable progress with our AUKUS partners on capability development.

This is demonstrated by the successful completion of a world-first trial of a jointly developed Australian, UK and US artificial intelligence capability earlier this year. 

I want to take this opportunity to acknowledge ADIESA’s support for the introduction of a biennial National Defence Strategy as a key element of the Government’s response to the Defence Strategic Review.

In a contested environment where change is rapid, we need Defence policy to keep pace and to provide clarity of process and approach to Defence and defence industry.

That is why we directed Defence to move away from periodic white papers to producing a National Defence Strategy on a biennial basis.

Work is well underway to develop the inaugural National Defence Strategy and the Defence Industry Development Strategy, which will establish the framework and principles for the direction of defence industry policy.

The Government will deliver the first National Defence Strategy in 2024, which will set out a holistic, comprehensive reform of Defence’s policy, planning, capabilities and resourcing in line with the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review.

Finally, I want to emphasise how important it is we keep working closely together.

Our Government is committed to listening to defence industry, both through formal consultations – like the two Industry Roundtables that Defence will host next month with both small and large ICT suppliers and the dialogues organised by ADIESA and through informal functions like this one, as we continue to implement the recommendations of the Defence Strategic Review.

My door is always open to talking about how we can best achieve our goals to make Australia safer and more secure.

Thank you.


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