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Op-Ed: 2021 – A year of challenges and transformative opportunity for Australia’s defence industry

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price unveils the Morrison government’s bold plans for the Australian defence industry over the coming year.

Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price unveils the Morrison government’s bold plans for the Australian defence industry over the coming year.

When the history books are written for 2020, it will undoubtedly go down as a year in which Australia – and the world – changed once again.


For Australia’s defence industry, 2020 was also a game-changer, but in a far more positive sense.

Defence industry was a standout performer last year, providing strong support for our national response to COVID while continuing to support the Australian Defence Force.

In 2021, I am determined to ensure we maintain that momentum.

We now have an even stronger desire to support and develop the competitiveness and capability of Australia’s defence industry.

My message is clear – this year you will see an even stronger focus on my key priorities for defence industry.


I have highlighted a number of these priorities in a video message to industry, released today.

I want to cut red tape and streamline onerous procurement processes that many in industry, particularly small-to-medium businesses, know only too well.

I want to expand Australia’s defence export opportunities and our international competitiveness.

I want to ensure our Australian defence industry is an eco-system that learns together, grows together, and continues to deliver world-class capability to the Australian Defence Force.

This year, I will be unveiling new areas to strengthen our partnerships between Defence and industry.

Because this relationship is firmly in the national interest and is key to supporting our post-COVID recovery.

I am working to streamline the Defence Industry Security Program and our partnerships with industry to enhance our collective security.

In supporting our post COVID-19 recovery, Defence industry is a key cog in the engine room of the Australian economy, creating jobs, driving innovation across the nation and delivering capability for our ADF.

It is critically important to identify and map out the skills which Australia’s defence industry needs.

That is why I launched the Skilling Australia’s Defence Industry (SADI) Grants program. This $39 million investment over three years is helping our SMEs and industry associations to provide essential training and expertise for defence industry workers.

The SADI grant is designed to support businesses to invest in the skills of their employees, therefore investing in the future of their businesses.

I encourage you to spread the awareness of this grant and to apply. Our investment in you is an investment in the nation and in our post COVID-19 recovery.

Expanding our export opportunities will also open avenues and empower our sector to grow.

Though the pandemic has prevented traditional face-to-face engagement with our international partners we have responded by turning to increased digital and virtual engagement.

Last year we supported more than 70 companies to participate in virtual trade shows, training more than 60 companies to pitch themselves virtually.

We promoted more than 30 companies via tailored online engagements with key international markets.

My emphasis is not only on existing companies who supply to the Australian Defence Force. It is also about growing the pipeline of companies who are new to the Defence environment.

The CDIC is at the heart of government’s strategy to building strong and effective partnerships between Defence and industry.

Its transition to Defence builds on our efforts to engage with industry, and to build links with the Innovation Hub, Australian Industry Capability and contracting areas across all of Defence, especially CASG.

I am very pleased to report that the relocation of CDIC staff is complete, with personnel-based around the nation, transitioning to CASG.

Delivering on the transition of the CDIC from the Department of Industry to Defence is one of my critical priorities for 2021.

We will continue to head in the right direction and deliver the recommendations of the CDIC review.

As part of this, I am looking forward to launching a new and improved organisation later this year.

Finally, last year I announced a review of Defence’s procurement processes, practices and the ASDEFCON suite of templates.

We need a fit-for-purpose Defence procurement system, which balances the needs of your business and those with Defence, but also cuts the invisible hand of red tape.

My goal, and that of the Government, is to build a more resilient and competitive defence industrial base by enhancing our engagement with industry.

I would encourage you to engage in this process.

We seek your views on how Defence approaches the market at all stages of the procurement cycle.

This is an important opportunity for industry to present feedback, provide ideas and solutions to the way you do business with Defence.

To this end, I encourage all of you to contribute to the survey that is available on the review’s website by 28 February.

Looking forward, the challenges of COVID-19 are far from over, but we need to bounce back and grow an ever stronger defence industry.

The growth potential is not only vital for our security. It means jobs and opportunities for Australians.

At no point in our history has the link between our security and prosperity been so clear.

This is reflected by the Morrison government’s bold and comprehensive commitment to securing this effective partnership between Defence and industry.

I will continually assess and re-evaluate our priorities as our environment changes.

As our priorities change, as we achieve goals and as new challenges emerge, I will keep you informed.

Melissa Price is the Minister for Defence Industry and member for Durack in Western Australia.  

Op-Ed: 2021 – A year of challenges and transformative opportunity for Australia’s defence industry
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