Swift action needed to bolster defence industry – Robert Nioa


NIOA Group CEO Robert Nioa has called for swift action to boost Australia’s defence industry so it could play a part in a future Indo-Pacific allied military force.

Speaking to the American Chamber of Commerce (AmCham) Queensland Nioa said decisive action was needed due to a ‘palpable’ escalation of geopolitical tensions.

Nioa recently inked an agreement with US company L3Harris Aerojet Rocketdyne to explore the manufacture of critical guided weapons components to support domestic and allied missile production.

Nioa said: “America remains the world’s arsenal of democracy and America is stirring,” said Mr Nioa who recently returned from the US where he had key meetings with US defence industry and the Pentagon.

“Those engagements highlighted that we must build more of a sense of urgency into getting our defence industries more productive, more capable, more innovative and to a scale capable of supporting a combined allied response to large scale conflict in the Indo-Pacific region.”

NIOA is the largest Australian-owned supplier of munitions to the ADF, owns Tennessee-based US and Australian army sniper rifle supplier Barrett Firearms and recently announced a move into the key US munitions production facility at Picatinny Arsenal in New Jersey.

Speaking at a “State of National Security” event, Nioa said: “There’s some good news in efforts by the Pentagon and the Biden Administration to rebuild defence production in America and through partnerships with allies like Australia.

“Because of the AUKUS deal, the Congress has passed reforms to US arms control regulations – the ITARS laws – to allow easier, faster co-operation between Australian and US firms.

“And this US change is being met by defence export control changes the Albanese Government introduced to Parliament towards the end of last year.

“If we can get this right, it will mean we will no longer be hampered by some of the detailed and slow administrative work needed now to get technical information from US firms.”

Nioa said the goal was to establish greater production capabilities in both countries, so that Australia can be an alternative source of supply of weapons in times of conflict.

Nioa’s recent US visit coincided with the release of the US Department of Defense’s inaugural National Defense Industrial Strategy (NDIS).

Similarly, the Australian government is due to release its Defence Industry Development Strategy in coming months.

“The US DoD new NDIS is a big step forward that is giving real momentum to reinvestment into defence production in America.

“The strategy repeatedly calls out the need for collective industrialisation efforts with close allies, particularly Australia.

“So, as (Defence Minister) Richard Marles and (Defence Industry Minister) Pat Conroy craft Australia’s National Defence Strategy they have said will be done this year, I am very confident that they will align Australia’s defence industry approach with the work being done in the US.”

Nioa said industry was ready to step up pointing to a recently released Sovereign Australian Prime Alliance report which outlines a detailed plan to mobilise defence manufacturing.

Among eight key priorities, the SAPA plan calls for an immediate injection of $500 million in the May Federal Budget to be directed to acquisition contracts with Australian owned defence companies.

Further reading:
NIOA joins Aerojet Rocketdyne in guided weapons
NIOA moves further into the US market with Picatinny Arsenal tenancy
NIOA enters US manufacturing with firearms buy

Picture: NIOA Group CEO Rob Nioa, at the AmCham event in Brisbane

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