Opening of the UNSW Innovation Centre

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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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22 February 2024

I begin by acknowledging the traditional owners of the land, the Bedegal people, and pay my respects to their Elders, past and present.

As the Assistant Minister for Defence, 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.

My colleague, the Honourable Pat Conroy MP, Minister for Defence Industry and the Minister for International Development and the Pacific,

Distinguished Guests.

It is a great privilege to be here today, both as the Assistant Minister for Defence and as the Member for Kingsford Smith to celebrate with you the official opening of the University of New South Wales’ (UNSW) Nuclear Innovation Centre.

Every time this University grows, Australia grows with it.

We get smarter and stronger, and better able to deal with the challenges facing the nation.

The mission of this Centre is both admirable and ambitious: “to foster collaborations with key stakeholders, drive innovation, and create a strong talent pipeline by developing and nurturing future leaders in the field. ”

UNSW graduates will find exciting opportunities to contribute to the Australian conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarine enterprise.

The upcoming launch of the submarine enterprise creates a wealth of possibilities to be part of this important national endeavour.

The skills and knowledge acquired at UNSW can be applied to solve real-world challenges of unprecedented scope.

This generation has the unique opportunity to make a lasting difference in this critical realm.

I encourage UNSW graduates to explore the many rewarding career paths available within the submarine enterprise.

The Australian Submarine Agency is up and running.

The Government has secured land at Osborne in South Australia for both the new submarine construction yard and for the Skills and Training Academy that will help train its workforce.

And preliminary enabling works ahead of construction of the shipyard are already underway.

We are committed to supporting the integration of Australian industry into the broader US and UK submarine supply chains.

Over in Western Australia, we’ve allocated $8 billion dollars over the next decade to expand HMAS Stirling.

It will be ready to support the sustainment of US and UK conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines from 2027.

And it will be ready, in the early 2030s, to serve as the home port for Australia’s first sovereign conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered capability – the Virginia Class submarines.

All in all, $18 billion dollars will be invested in upgrading and expanding Australia’s infrastructure to deliver, maintain and sustain this capability.

And $30 billion dollars will be invested in Australia’s industrial base.

The collective efforts of thousands of highly skilled Australian scientists, engineers, project managers, operators, technicians and submariners will be required over the coming decades to deliver this program and maintain this capability throughout its life.

As the Member for Kingsford Smith, I’m very proud that many of them will be educated at this University - in this community of scholars – ready, willing and able to do their part to deliver this capability for the nation.

Their work will span Australian industry, educational institutions like this one, as well as the Australian Defence Force and the Australian Public Service.

There will be roles in building, operating, maintaining and regulating nuclear-powered submarines.

And there will be opportunities to train in the US and UK.

Delivering this program will involve innovation, it will involve cutting-edge technology, it will involve collaboration, partnership and teamwork – all things at which this University excels.

I look forward to seeing this Nuclear Innovation Centre grow and flourish, and its people make a contribution to this great nation-building endeavour.

It is now my pleasure to welcome my colleague Minister Pat Conroy to officially open the Centre.

Thank you.


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