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The Hon Melissa Price MP
Minister for Defence Industry
Minister for Science and Technology
21 November 2019
MELISSA PRICE: What a great morning it is here in Darwin. Nine minutes thirty seconds. That's what it took to make this piece of metal. Doesn't look very exciting, doesn't look like much, but we're really excited to be here today to talk about the partnership between Charles Darwin University and SPEE3D. It's an exciting day because we get to talk about new and improved 3D printing- metal 3D printing, and its application for defence industry, and in particular, its application for Navy. What I’d like to do now is invite Captain Chris Eggleton to talk about how exciting it is for Navy today. Thank you.
CAPT CHRIS EGGLETON: Thank you, ma’am. In particular, Navy is very interested in the obsolescence opportunities that this technology offers us. Our ships – some of our older ships – are approaching 30 years in service. It's very hard to find those parts anymore, so this gives us a fantastic opportunity to produce the point parts in Australia using Australian technology. The other thing we're very excited about is the opportunities it gives our young sailors to upskill in 3D technology and artisan skills of fitting and machining, which is something we're hoping will retain our sailors and attract sailors into the Navy to get these very, very transferable skills. The other thing about this is it's not an expensive technology; it's very, very affordable. The US Navy are doing it in a different way to us, and they're finding a fair bit of difficulty getting their systems to work at sea. We know that this one will work at sea. But what we're going to do first of all is to give it to a bunch of young sailors down on the waterfront here at Darwin and say, have a go at it and see how you go with what you can come up with. Because as you know, young people will always find innovative and unusual ways to use technology. And we're looking forward to our sailors providing that. Thank you.
DR REBECCA MURRAY: It’s very exciting, the opportunity as well as the technology that we’re working with, with SPEE3D. They had just currently [indistinct] in Germany and they just broke a world record on 3D printing. And so it shows you an example of how quick and easy it is to produce things with this technology. It opens up a lot of new possibilities, and it's also ever-evolving. And so we're here, going to be looking at how to constantly manage that ever-evolving technology through training application development and materials research.
SENATOR SAM MCMAHON: Yeah, this is absolutely fantastic. A great partnership between CDU and SPEE3D; a Territory company. Fantastic that our small population here can produce cutting edge technology and we've got the partnership, they're working well with R&D and with CDU, our home-grown university, and now partnering with our Navy, and able to come up with innovative and novel solutions that we can take with us all around the world and fix our vessels, rather than having to wait for parts to be flown. And as you've heard
MELISSA PRICE: Okay. Any questions?
JOURNALIST: Minister, in terms of the defence infrastructure- or in terms of the infrastructure spending announced overnight, will government be bringing forward any of its defence spending in Top End?
MELISSA PRICE: Well, as you probably are aware, we’ve already committed around a billion dollars to the Territory Defence spend. We've already let approximately 80 per cent of that billion dollars. And of that 80 per cent, 70 per cent of contracts are with local contractors. So we're on track to let that billion dollars’ worth of work over the next year.
JOURNALIST: Is there anything of that remaining 20 percent that you can bring forward?
MELISSA PRICE: I don't have the details on that, but I think that 70 per cent of what's already been let going to local Territorian companies is a very good news story.
JOURNALIST: When will we see Scott Morrison visit Darwin [indistinct], it’s been something like 187 days since his last visit. He hasn't visited since the last election.
MELISSA PRICE: Yeah that’s a matter for the Prime Minister.
JOURNALIST: This latest batch of infrastructure projects that have been announced being fast tracked. Is there anything in there for the NT?
MELISSA PRICE: Well that's a matter for the Prime Minister, but as I think you would have seen him speak about last night in the media, there are other states, and of course other
JOURNALIST: So you’re not being made aware if there are?
MELISSA PRICE: I don't have any details on that.
JOURNALIST: In regards defence infrastructure, in recent weeks, defence suppliers have accused Naval Group, the French company chosen to design our future submarines of selecting other French companies for lucrative contracts. Are Aussie contractors missing out?
MELISSA PRICE: No, that is not my experience at all, and in fact, every day I'm coming across new defence industry players that are coming into our supply chain, not just with respect to shipbuilding but with respect to all the different LAND 400 projects as well. I mean, five or six weeks ago I announced another 11 contracts with Rheinmetall, small Australian companies from one end of the country to the next.
So, it's actually a very, very positive story. And in fact I'm talking to the Chief Minister here in the Northern Territory, we've got to work hard to identify who are those companies here in the Northern Territory that are capable, that already have some skill sets that could actually be involved in our defence industry supply chain. And that's not going to happen overnight, but we all need to work together to make sure that Territorian companies don't miss out in that supply chain.
JOURNALIST: What about Paspaley then? They’re a company that could to cater to defence with a ship lift. Is the government going to be investing any money in that?
MELISSA PRICE: I'm not aware of the Paspaley ship lift as such but –
JOURNALIST: Or the Darwin ship lift.
MELISSA PRICE: That's a matter for the Northern Territory Government, they're very aware of our position on that.
JOURNALIST: Do you know anything about the Darwin ship lift, Minister?
MELISSA PRICE: Yes, I'm very aware of the ship lift, I had a very good meeting with the Chief Minister last night, but that is a matter for the Northern Territory Government – it’s not a matter for the Federal Government.
JOURNALIST: Matt Canavan was up here just a month or so ago saying that there’s a prospect that it will be funding announced for the ship lift prior to Christmas. Is that coming?
MELISSA PRICE: What I am aware of – and I'm not the minister relating to Northern Australia, I'm the Minister for Defence Industry – what I do know is that the Northern Territory Government has applied for NAIF funding. So perhaps that's what Matt Canavan is referring
JOURNALIST: He's talking about the NAIF funding, yes. Do you think that's coming?
MELISSA PRICE: Well I'm not the Minister for NAIF funding so I can't comment on that.
JOURNALIST: Do you think the ship lift is a good idea? Would you push forward; would you
MELISSA PRICE: Yes, I think it is a very good idea, and what I've said to the Chief Minister last night is that the Navy will be able to use that ship lift as is required.
JOURNALIST: It's been announced that Twiggy Forrest will invest in the Sun Cable solar project. What do you make of that investment by one of Australia’s richest men?
MELISSA PRICE: Well, that's not my portfolio, but the Federal Government is investing a billion dollars in renewable energy projects, and, you know, it does require private investment as well, so I welcome that.
JOURNALIST: Would you like to see this funding for this 3D printing trial continue after the two years? Would you like to see it become a long term thing?
MELISSA PRICE: Well, it's a really exciting innovation, I mean, this is just incredible, but we have to do the trial first – that's why we have trials, $1.5 million over 18 months to be able to take advanced manufacturing to see whether it's going to work or not. But, you know, that's why you have a trial.
JOURNALIST: Minister, the National Defence Association says not enough is being done to ensure Australian small to medium contractors are getting their fair share over the long term as part of the Australian Industry Capability Plan. What’s your response?
MELISSA PRICE: Well, I don't agree with that. I don’t agree with that at all, and in fact that's not my experience. As I said at the outset, every day I'm coming across new participants in our defence industry supply chain. So, I don't accept that at all.
JOURNALIST: In the Northern Territory do you think enough contractors are getting work from the local defence industry?
MELISSA PRICE: Well, certainly in the infrastructure space, but I think we do need to work harder to identify those companies here in the Territory who have got some defence industry capability, and that was the topic of the conversation I had with the Chief Minister last night.
JOURNALIST: There’s been previously Territory businesses have complained about the slow pace of the defence industry rollouts in the Top End. Do you predict this to pick up?
MELISSA PRICE: Well, I think what we've got to do is we've got to have defence industry capability in the NT, and we've got to have those companies putting their hand up. And it's not just the federal government that needs to work harder. This is the point of the conversation with the Territory Government last night. We actually need to make sure we're identifying those companies who've got capability, and often they don't know they've got capability. So rather than waiting for them to walk through the door we, as the Federal Government, together with state and territory governments, have actually got to drag these companies through the door to make them realise that there are enormous opportunities across naval shipbuilding but also on the LAND 400 series as well.
JOURNALIST: Just one for the Senator, if it’s okay? Sam, what do you make of Damian Hale’s comments yesterday on Katie Woolf’s show? They were quite anti-Semitic in nature.
SENATOR SAM MCMAHON: I’ve not seen his comments, sorry.
JOURNALIST: Senator, Damian Hale referred to Mr Frydenberg in relation to his handling of the economy as a Jewish guy who would be a good guy to have. What do you think about
SENATOR SAM MCMAHON: I would say that's pretty inappropriate. And it's inappropriate to comment on his religion or his heritage and that's, yeah. I wouldn’t agree with that at all.
JOURNALIST: Do you think there should be ramifications against Mr Hale?
SENATOR SAM MCMAHON: Yeah.
MELISSA PRICE: Okay, good. Thanks very much.