Defence to draw on domestic industry – Richard Marles


Acting Prime Minister and defence minister Richard Marles has committed the government to more effectively draw on domestic as well as international industry to sustain Australia’s defence capabilities.

Addressing the Sydney Institute, Marles said industry was part of strengthening the lethality, resilience and readiness of the Australian Defence Force.

Marles said: “The war in Ukraine has underlined that we must improve the ADF’s ability to sustain the capability and materiel required for high-end warfighting, especially ammunition.

“We have to draw more effectively on both domestic industry and international partners to establish more responsive and secure supply chains.

“This includes developing new manufacturing capabilities, better integrated with key partners, such as through Defence’s Guided Weapons and Explosive Ordnance enterprise.”

Marles said the governemt had to accord adequate priority to high-end military capabilities to deliver combat power through impactful materiel and enhanced strike capability – including over longer distances.

“At the heart of our nation having impactful projection will be the ability to operate a nuclear powered submarine capability.

“Nuclear powered submarines will be an essential part of Australia’s naval capability, providing an unmatched strategic advantage in terms of surveillance and protection of our maritime approaches.

“This capability will revolutionise the potency of the ADF and greatly enhance our sovereignty.”

The government has said it will announce in March, with the UK and the US, the optimal pathway for developing a nuclear submarine capability.

However he said the AUKUS agreement was designed to do more than deliver nuclear-powered submarines to Australia.

“It forms a capability partnership that will allow our three countries to drive advantage in undersea and electronic warfare, hypersonics and counter-hypersonics, advanced cyber and quantum technologies and artificial intelligence.

“All of this does involve greater co-operation and integration with the US and the UK on developing technology.

“But Australia having access to greater technology builds Australian capability, which means we are taken more seriously and that in turn expands our strategic space.”

However Marles warned that Australia was suffering a defence personnel crisis.

“The ADF is almost 3,000 people below its allocated force strength (and) the Department of Defence is more than 1,000 people below its budgeted size.”

Marles said this all meant that Defence’s budget would also need to grow.

“Because cost pressures, capability acquisition delays, and the need to accelerate capability delivery into the near term is resulting in a concertina effect of compression on the defence budget.

“New capability requirements, coupled with sustainment demand for existing capabilities and severe workforce pressures will require difficult decisions and trade-offs. There are no easy solutions.”

Picture: Richard Marles

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