The Minister for Defence Industry Pat Conroy has again raised hopes the federal government’s Defence Industry Development Strategy now under development will lead to significant investment in Australian manufacturing and its workforce.
Speaking at the 2023 Australian Strategic Policy Institute conference, Conroy said the strategy would establish the framework and principles for the direction of defence industry policy, as well as a clear plan for implementation.
Conroy said: “It will cover workforce, it will set out more targeted Sovereign Industrial Capability Priorities, it will cover reforms to procurement and include mechanisms to improve security within defence businesses (and) importantly, it will articulate the strategic rationale for a defence industrial base.”
Conroy said that following the Defence Strategic Review Australia needed to think about the industrial base in the context of the most cutting-edge capabilities.
“We need to think about it in terms of how collaboration with our partners is delivering us superior capabilities that we could not make alone, like the Joint Strike Fighter, which is made up of different components from different countries.
“And we need to think about it in terms of AUKUS.
“We are working closely with our AUKUS partners to accelerate development of advanced defence capabilities where they will have the most impact – both for deterrence and for operational effectiveness.”
Conroy said the focus was on the delivery of conventionally-armed, nuclear-powered submarines as outlined in the pathway announced by Prime Minister Albanese with President Biden and Prime Minister Sunak in March this year.
“Acquisition of nuclear-powered submarines will require a transformation of Australian defence industry.
“This alone will result in $30 billion dollars being invested in Australia’s industrial base and there will be massive infrastructure upgrades and expansion amounting up to $18 billion.
“$6 billion will be invested in Australia’s industrial capability and workforce over the next four years alone.”
Conroy also reassured the audience that AUKUS was not only about boosting the industrial capabilities of our allies. He said Australia needed to grow the combined industrial capacity and supply base of the three AUKUS nations to ensure the timely, ongoing delivery of the submarine capability.
“We are rapidly scaling the education and training for the development of our workforce to meet these needs.
“This includes the Skills and Training Academy we are co-designing with the South Australian government. This will ensure we are ready to build and maintain our own submarines.”
Conroy also said the government was working on opportunities for Australian suppliers – not just for Australia’s submarines, but to contribute to the supply chains of the US and UK.
“A genuine partnership between the federal Government, the states, industry and unions will be critical to growing the defence industrial base we need.
“AUKUS is about expanding the industrial base and building robust and resilient supply chains for all AUKUS partners.”
Picture: ASC Adalaide