Address to the Defence Industry Security Program (DISP) Industry Forum

Release details

Release type

Related ministers and contacts

The Hon Matt Thistlethwaite MP

Assistant Minister for Defence

Assistant Minister for Veterans’ Affairs

Assistant Minister for the Republic

Media contact

Ben Leeson on 0404 648 275

Release content

17 June 2024

I begin by acknowledging the Ngunnawal people as traditional custodians of the land we’re 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.

In that spirit, I’d like to thank Kieran Hynes for your Acknowledgement of Country. 

And thank you for your service to our country through the Australian Army, and your continuing contribution as founder of Willyama Services, which is an important strategic partner of the Defence Industry Security Program. 

Recently, the DPM launched the first National Defence Strategy (NDS). The NDS is the government's plan to invest in the people, power, and posture of the Australian Defence Force (ADF) to modernise our ADF to meet the challenges of the future. 

The NDS recognises our most important asset is our people. We need to make service in the ADF more flexible, inclusive and supportive of families. 

It also adopts strategy of deterrence through denial with a large investment in new capability, particularly long range strike capability. 

And we are bolstering our Defence capacity in the north with major upgrades to almost all northern bases and enhanced combat capability.

To achieve all the goals of the NDS requires stronger partnerships with industry to deliver that next generation capability. 

Fundamental to that partnership is trust and security of Defence platforms and information.

The Defence Industry Security Program (DISP) delivers that security assurance crucial to the strength of the partnership.

Since its inception, DISP has played a central role in our national security infrastructure.

With more than 1,430 Australian companies and universities already DISP members, and with strong interest in the program, we expect that membership will exceed 2,000 by the end of this year.

That reflects the tremendous opportunities within defence industry, twinned with awareness of the heightened threats to businesses who work with Defence.

DISP membership is at the heart of our ongoing efforts to safeguard our national security.

I’d also like to welcome Matthew Redding, Assistant Director for Industrial Security, and the team from the US Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency.

Australia’s Alliance with the United States has been the foundation of our nation’s defence since World War II and is unprecedented in scale, scope and significance.

We are committed to working together to strengthen the technological edge of the Alliance through the strongest possible safeguards to protect sensitive technology and information.

I’d also like to welcome Robert Trono and Erik Miller from Lockheed Martin, and Katherine Andrews from Northrop Grumman...

And congratulate you and your colleagues on winning the James S. Cogswell Outstanding Industrial Security Achievement Award. 

The Cogswell Award is the most prestigious honour the Defense Counterintelligence and Security Agency can present to cleared contractors.

It represents excellence in defence industrial security, and given the scale and sophistication of modern day cyber threats, nothing but the best will do.

We appreciate you making the journey across the Pacific to share your expertise.

I also acknowledge the senior leaders and experts from across the Defence enterprise, from the Australian Signals Directorate and the Australian Submarine Agency.

It is a signal that across the entire Defence ecosystem we are working more closely and more cooperatively than ever before to strengthen our security posture.

I want to say at the outset that this forum is not only about speaking. It is about listening.

It is about listening to you – the DISP members on the frontline of protecting sensitive technology and information – in a spirit of partnership, so that we can work together more effectively to meet the challenges we jointly face.

The theme of this forum is ‘Secure Partnerships’.

To safeguard Australia’s national security, we need to secure a strong and interdependent web of partnerships, including those that flow from the critically important AUKUS trilateral partnership that spans our governments, our defence establishments and our defence industrial base.

AUKUS represents a once-in-a-generation opportunity for defence industry.

Earlier this year, the Government passed landmark legislative reform to strengthen our national security and support local industry by unlocking defence trade, innovation and collaboration with our AUKUS partners.

The Defence Trade Controls Amendment Act protects our cutting-edge military technologies by enhancing our export control regime. 

It will fast-track the delivery of high-end capabilities to the Australian Defence Force by streamlining trade and collaboration with our AUKUS partners, maintaining Australia’s capability edge.

This new legislation removes red tape in defence trade with our AUKUS partners by supporting the establishment of a licence-free environment for Australian industry, higher education and research sectors.

It will unlock investment and collaboration opportunities for Australian defence industry under the AUKUS framework, with the national exemption for export permits to the US and UK to benefit an estimated $5 billion in annual defence exports.

The Safeguarding Australia’s Military Secrets Act (SAMS Act) will keep Australian secrets in Australian hands, ensuring our military secrets remain safe. 

This sensible reform strengthens the robust laws we already have in place by enhancing the Government’s ability to prevent the unwanted transfer of sensitive defence information to foreign militaries.

The SAMS Act is about protecting our military knowledge, skills and experience, as well as regulating the military training that Australians may provide to foreign countries.

Together, these two crucial pieces of legislation will safeguard our cutting-edge military technology and offer significant benefits to defence industry.

As Security Officers, you play a vital role in ensuring that the people in your organisation understand the legislation.

Strengthening security is also a key focus of the Government’s Defence Industry Development Strategy.

Because strengthening security is a precondition of growing Australia’s sovereign defence industrial base.

From the tangible to the digital, and from processes to people, protecting our information and technology assets is essential to achieving a resilient and robust defence industry.

The Government doesn’t underestimate the significance of what we are asking business to achieve.

We are focussed on ensuring that support is available and easy to access, through a streamlined single Defence grant to help support businesses to manage security risks.

As part of the Defence Industry Development Strategy, previous grant programs have been merged into a single Defence Industry Development Grant. 

We’ve streamlined the application process to make it easier for companies to engage with Defence.

And we’ve allocated more money, with a total investment in defence industry grants of over $150 million dollars over the next 4 years.

The new, unified grant program has four areas of focus to help support Australian small to medium-sized business in areas of sovereign industrial priorities, exports, skilling and security.

We are also focussing on improving the operation of the DISP itself, launching a new online portal to make it easier for businesses to apply for membership. 

That’s what secure partnerships are all about.

So ensuring we modernise our Defence Force to meet the challenges of the future and keep Australians safe will require a robust and secure partnership between industry and Defence.

You represent our trusted partners to deliver that ambition.

When it comes to safeguarding our national interests, security is a shared responsibility.

Thank you for your dedication and diligence to ensure trust is maintained and information remains secure.

I hope you find value in this inaugural forum, and I hope your discussions are valuable and productive.

Thank you.


Other related releases