Analysis and Commentary

Celebrating Australian sovereign capability – Nova Systems’ Jim McDowell puts the case for the defence

Analysis and Commentary

Our editorial series – Celebrating Australian sovereign capability – has focused on developing the wider manufacturing sector. However, in no sector is the need more important, nor more urgent, than in national defence and security argues Jim McDowell in this contribution from our sponsor.

Is Australia ready for war?

The question may be regarded by some as alarmist. However, it’s making news headlines across Australia right now, and the short answer is – no.

The belief we had a ten-year warning period is no more. Instead, Defence experts are saying Australia is facing the very real prospect of being involved in conflict with China within just three years.

It is the reason why the imminent Defence Strategic Review (DSR) is arguably the most critical Defence policy document in decades. The DSR will, quite simply, shape the way Australia secures our security and sovereignty and ultimately, ensure we are ready for war.

Nova Systems believes truly sovereign capability is critical to ensuring our nation is ready to defend itself, if required.
Remember just three years ago when we were in the grips of the Covid-19 pandemic, and you couldn’t buy a roll of toilet paper for love or money at your local supermarket?

It was desperate times.

The scenario highlighted to all of us – and the nation – the critical importance of supply chains. Above all, it underscored the importance of sovereign capability to ensure we can ‘go it alone’ if we need to.

If the supply chain for toilet rolls is important, it suggests the supply chain for Defence is even more critical, particularly as we are now faced with unprecedented geopolitical tensions and the very real threat of war on our doorstep.

Our national security – indeed Australia’s future – depend on ensuring our sovereignty.

With the DSR release just weeks away, it is worthwhile considering what ‘sovereign’ defence capability really means and why truly sovereign capability is crucial for our nation’s future.

As Nova Systems expressed in our DSR submission, Australia needs true sovereignty in the defence industrial landscape to ensure our ongoing national security is not solely reliant on our international partners and multi-national entities.

It is vital the Commonwealth focus on Australia’s national interests. We must prioritise areas of defence capability that can be retained and nurtured within our borders to support our self-reliance.

We know components of Australia’s future force will always be built overseas, but we need Australian owned defence companies developing and scaling priority technologies and capabilities. As we’re seeing in the war in Ukraine, if you can’t provide security in your own country to keep a threat at bay, you have a problem.

A truly sovereign capability not only supports our men and women on the front line, profits made stay in-country and are reinvested in future capability and R&D, contributing to Australia’s economy and jobs for Australians now and for future generations.

As a 100 percent Australian owned and operated mid-tier entity of scale, Nova Systems believes the Commonwealth must look at their critical SICPs (Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities) and decipher what capabilities remain that offer the opportunity to create a truly sovereign Australian position, such as Test and Evaluation, Certification and Systems Assurance (T&ECSA).

T&E delivers mission certainty and importantly, identifies risk. The capability also happens to be Nova Systems’ bread and butter.
We believe we can make future T&E services 100 per cent Australian controlled through a partnership between Nova Systems, our supply chain, and the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth has said on many occasions it wants significant sovereign industrial capabilities established in Australia. While this already exists in black and white in policy, we must turn these words into action.

We must ask ourselves, as the smallest player at the AUKUS table, what is Australia bringing to the partnership aside from geographical and strategic positioning?

As a smaller economy, with a smaller defence force than our AUKUS partners, we need to create critical mass and turn up to the AUKUS table with entities of scale, especially if we are going to contribute to the partnership in a meaningful way.

One thing is certain, the decisions implemented from the Defence Strategic Review will determine how Australia’s security and safety is positioned for years to come.

With so much on the line for our region, our nation and our families, we simply cannot accept the status quo.

Nova System is committed to building a sustainable and enduring sovereign defence industrial capability in Australia, under Australian control.

A strong sovereign industrial base is a fundamental part of a resilient Australian Defence Force, and in turn, will support increased levels of preparedness and mobilisation so Australia is essentially, ready for war.

Ensuring Australia has sovereign capability is crucial to defending our nation now, and for generations to come.

Jim McDowell Jim has over 30 years’ experience in both the private and public sectors. Most recently, he was South Australia’s top public servant as Chief Executive for the Department of the Premier and Cabinet. Prior to that, he was a senior executive in BAE Systems, including as CEO of BAE Systems Saudi Arabia and as CEO of BAE Systems Australia where he oversaw the purchase of Tenix Defence. Jim is the Chief Executive Officer at Nova Systems.

Picture: Nova Systems CEO Jim McDowell

@AuManufacturing’s editorial series – Celebrating Australian sovereign capability – is brought to you with the support of Nova Systems and Titomic.

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