Aukus export opportunities will open in 2023 – Conroy

Defence industry minister Pat Conroy has said that opportunities for Australian SMEs to supply products and components into the United States and UK militaries will begin to open up in 2023.

Speaking at the Hunter Defence Conference gala dinner he said the opportunities would reflect the industrial intention behind the agreement between the three nations.

Conroy said: “Aukus is not just about Australia buying nuclear powered submarines or other advanced capabilities from the United States or the United Kingdom.

“It’s about growing the industries of each nation to support the others.

“It truly is a partnership.”

In what was his first major speech as minister, Conroy said defence export success was a win for industry, a win for the workforce, a win for defence, a win for the Australian economy and a win for Australia’s strategic interests.

“Exporting also increases interoperability with our international partners and provides long-term, tangible partnership opportunities.

“Exporting to our allies, and supporting the capability of like-minded countries, strengthens our relationships and our ability to shape and influence our strategic environment.”

Conroy said Australia, Britain and America were making good progress to accelerate the development of advanced defence capabilities where they will have most impact – both for deterrence and for the operational effectiveness of the Australian Defence Force.

“We won’t be able to deliver the capability options we acquire through Aukus without industry’s support.

“As initiatives are agreed trilaterally, and specific capabilities are earmarked for acceleration, defence will engage directly with industry partners. Initial engagement is expected to commence in early 2023.”

He said Aukus would also provide an opportunity to unlock broader barriers to enhanced technology and industrial base collaboration, some of which had constrained benefits from Australia’s inclusion in the US National Technology and Industrial base.

“As Minister for Defence Industry, my key message to you this evening is that I am committed to building a genuine, long-term partnership with industry, large and small, locally and internationally.”

Conroy said Aukus was part of a push by the new government to boost opportunity for defence contractors.

“By the end of the decade, I want to see more medium sized businesses, capable of standing on their own two feet, outside of defence acquisition cycles.

“..A strong defence industry, which includes businesses from all over Australia, makes our nation more secure and our economy more robust.”

Conroy told the dinner that the government plans to invest around $3 billion dollars on defence innovation over the next decade.

It would also spend up to $4.1 million annually to support Australian businesses to build their export capability through the Defence Global Competitiveness Grants program.

Picture: Pat Conroy

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