Patrick Durrant | Canberra
Yesterday Defence Industry Minister Christopher Pyne spoke at the first welcome reception to be held in conjunction with the annual ADM Congress which begins today.
At the reception, sponsored by Navantia Australia, the Minister was introduced by former DMO head Warren King, who praised the work of the Minister to date, saying it was an incredibly exciting time for defence industry in Australia.
The Minister re-iterated his wish as part of the “new manufacturing renaissance in Australia” to perform as much of the work required under the Government's ten-year $195 billion spend in country.
“We need to determine the starting point of our capabilities and if we are just below the capability that we need, how can we build up defence industry so that we can do in Australia what we would have otherwise acquired from overseas.”
Praising Land 400 Phase Two contenders BAE Systems Australia and Rheinmetall Defence Australia, he said in response to the Government's call to maximise Australian industry content “they had both put their absolute best foot forward in trying to find Australian businesses around the country that could be part of their bids”.
The Minister said the response from industry had been enthusiastic, with hundreds of businesses having shown up to Land 400 workshops recently conducted throughout the country.
“My argument is that there is no point hanging onto a decision if you can make it and get it out there because business needs certainty and people want to make their own decisions – even companies that don't win bids pick themselves up and get back into the race for the next contest.
“That's what we want to see, a vibrant, active, growing defence industry defence industry sector providing high-tech, advanced manufacturing high-value jobs, because while we can't compete with countries in Asia when it comes to making t-shirts, we certainly can compete with any country in the world for the manufacture of submarines, or offshore patrol vessels or providing parts for the joint strike fighter.”
Minister Pyne said it was important to stay on schedule to guarantee certainty, and recognised the concerns held by industry on this topic.
“This year there will be a decision about offshore patrol vessels on schedule, there will be a decision about future frigates sooner than people expect, and there will be a decison about the combat system integrator for the future frigates.”
ADM's congress will take place today in Canberra with a premier line-up of speakers from Defence, Government and defence industry.