Peever to lead short defence innovation review

By Peter Roberts

Minister for defence industry Melissa Price today announced former Rio Tinto Australia managing director David Peever would lead an independent review of defence innovation, science and technology.

However despite promising ‘a comprehensive review’, Peever has been given very little time to canvas opinion, with the government expecting a full report by the end of the year.

Defence innovation programs, including the Next Generation Technology Fund and Defence Innovation Hub, will continue to operate as usual for duration of the review.

Price said the study would examine the Defence organisation in its entirety to establish how it can more effectively deliver home-grown, innovative capabilities for the men and women of the Australian Defence Force.

It will also seek to:

  • Strengthen and improve the links between academia and industry to solve Defence’s unique capability challenges
  • Simplify contracts to support more rapid acquisitions and transitions from concept to capability
  • And establish how Defence-funded research and innovation can be more effectively commercialised to give Defence a unique capability edge.

Price said the ‘wide-ranging review’ would seek to ensure the Defence organisation was more commercially driven and outcomes focused to give the ADF access to world-leading technologies and capabilities.

“We must ensure that we are taking full advantage of Australian innovations to maintain Defence’s capability edge while ensuring innovative businesses are given every chance of commercial success.

“We need a Defence organisation that can capitalise on the knowledge and skills of Australian industry and academia to develop mission-focused technology that can solve Defence’s unique capability challenges.”

Peever led the Defence First Principles Review in 2015.

However the government’s own body, Industry Innovation and Science Australia which provides the Australian Government with strategic advice on industry would seem to be a body more suited to the task.

The short time frame gives less than four months, while the aim to ‘ensure the Australian Defence Force has access to the most cutting-edge capability in the world’ begs a more comprehensive study.

Defence science is concentrated in the DSTG group which, along with academic and industry, is carrying out increasingly complex research in vital areas such as cyber security, space, autonomous systems and numerous other fields.

The full Terms of Reference are available here.

Picture: DSTG/Defence scientist Mark Beaumont

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