The US presidential elections may provide more than just a shock for most Australians, as Donald Trump became President-elect. However, according to the Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne, the results may mean a boost for the Australian defence industry.
Speaking at the Submarine Institute of Australia conference in Canberra on Wednesday, Minister Pyne pointed to Trump’s commitment to expand the US military as a sign of good things to come for Australian industry.
“To give an understanding of the scale of that increase, it includes 50,000 more Army troops, 70 new naval warships, 100 Air Force planes and a dozen new Marine battalions," Minister Pyne said.
“This represents around a half a trillion US dollar increase to the US Defence budget over the next decade.
“This result could bring with it remarkable opportunities for the Australian defence industry and, thanks to the foresight of the current government, Australia is well positioned to grasp those opportunities.”
With Trump openly critical of NATO countries who are not spending at least 2 per cent of their GDP on Defence funding, the 2016 White Paper and its associated Defence Integrated Investment Program has come at the perfect time to ensure a continued partnership with Australia’s largest ally: the United States.
Minister Pyne took the opportunity to reiterate Australia’s plans to take on some of the lion’s share. “To achieve these objectives, the Australian government is embarking on its largest ever renewal of our defence capability,” he said. “Indeed we’re making the largest ever investment in defence capability in our history.
“We’ll be investing just under $200 billion across the decade from now until 2025-26 in building that capability, growing our defence budget to at least two per cent of our gross domestic product.”
Minister Pyne was also quick to point out the long military history Australia has had with the US, and touch on the defence projects Australian industry is provided.
“As I’ve said earlier, Australia and the United States have had a long history of co-operation. With President-elect Trump taking the helm on 20 January, I think it’s fair to say that given the consistent rhetoric around boosting military spending in the US by tens if not hundreds of billions of dollars, there will be increased opportunities for Australian defence industry," he said.
“We’ve already demonstrated our commitment and our ability to develop world-leading technology like the CEA active phased array radar.
“This Australian technology is being exported to the world from here in Canberra, in fact, including the USA, and provides a huge step forward in radar technology.
“Austal, another Australian company, has two major contracts with the US Navy. The first is for 11 littoral combat ships, a contract worth approximately US$4 billion. Already, two of these vessels have been delivered and the project is on schedule.
“The second is for 11 expeditionary fast transport vessels with a contract value of approximately US$2 billion. Again, Austal has delivered seven of these vessels to the US Navy already, and the project is on schedule. There are many more examples of Australian defence companies ready to take on these opportunities.
“The Turnbull government is taking responsibility for our own Defence spending as we embark on an historical Defence spend of almost $200 billion over the next decade.
“We have been a true friend to the United States, and I look forward to working closely with the new defense secretary when they are named.”