Address to the ADM (Australian Defence Magazine) 30 Under 30 Awards

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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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7 March 2024

I begin by acknowledging 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 Serena for your Welcome to Country;

And thank you Natalee  for your introduction. 

I’m very proud to be the Patron of these Awards.

The 30 under 30 are the future of Australia’s entire defence sector.

And the National Portrait Gallery is an inspired choice as venue for this award ceremony. 

From Wiradjuri Elder Aunty Jenny Munro  to the Olympian Liesel Jones.

From astronaut Andy Thomas  to the artist Nora Heyson.  

The walls of this gallery tell the rich and complex stories of our nation. 

They represent everything we seek to defend and protect.

That is a mission for life, and it’s a mission the inspiring 30 under 30 we recognise today have adopted as their own.

So I want to start by saying “thank you’ to all the nominees and finalists. 

Thank you, for choosing to deploy your talents, skills and abilities to keep our country safe and secure. 

I want to use my voice tonight to amplify the voices of younger people within Defence who are doing extraordinary things.

Shanae Lay was a summer vacation student at Defence Science and Technology Group. 

She loved it so much, she decided to join as a graduate.

Today she’s a corrosion engineer, and as she says “…there aren’t many engineering jobs where you can jump on board a warship or submarine and investigate issues or implement new technology.” 

She says: “the old stereotypes are dead...DSTG is a fun place to work. You don’t need to be an old crazy scientist in a white lab coat every day.”  

What’s true at DSTG is true across Defence and industry.

The old stereotypes are dead. Defence is diverse and we are actively seeking a broader range of people to serve our country.

I know that is what Defence industry is looking for as well.

The Government will work with industry to recruit, train and upskill the industry workforce it needs, as we implement the new Defence Industry Development Strategy.

One of the many extraordinary things about defence industry is that the opportunities aren’t confined to our capital cities.

Just last month, the Government announced a $33 million-dollar contract to Albury company Australian Target Systems.

It’s a wholly veteran-owned company that also employs several veterans.

Across Australia, regional businesses are working with the Office of Defence Industry Support (ODIS) to access work on the Defence Estate, or join the supply chains for national capability projects.

And through the new Advanced Strategic Capabilities Accelerator, Defence is actively working with young start-up Australian companies - with the best and brightest minds - to help us solve our highest priority problems and create and develop game-changing capabilities.

Today’s Defence sector is about pushing the boundaries of the possible, in the service of the nation.  

With every piece of technology, every strategy, every decision, we are shaping the future.

Some of the career paths we are recruiting for today were literally science fiction yesterday, from hypersonics to quantum technology to advanced cyber.

Our plan to acquire and operate conventionally-armed nuclear-powered submarines reflects the many new opportunities to be involved in projects of huge scale and complexity. 

Every project, every pathway, needs leaders to bring them to fruition. 

We need leaders who can harness the capacity of diverse teams to deliver innovative solutions to hard problems.

We need leaders of vision and integrity, who can deliver complex projects in unforgiving timelines.

In short, we need leaders with the attributes recognised by the ‘30 under 30’ awards. 

We need them to deliver our vision for a strong and sovereign defence industrial base that is innovative, resilient and competitive; that creates good jobs and great opportunities for people to build their careers. 

So I congratulate ADM on this initiative, I congratulate the sponsors for backing it, and most of all, I congratulate the 2024 ‘30 under 30’ on their achievements and their efforts to support those around them, through volunteering, mentoring and being a role model for young people in defence industry.

Thank you. 


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