Australia’s defence industry could wait for up to a decade to see improvements to export opportunities, according to a Department of Defence figure.
Acting First Assistant Secretary Defence Industry Policy Matthew Ramage told the NSW Legislative Council’s standing committee on state development that changes and improvements from the imminent federal government Defence Export Strategy will take five to 10 years.
"It is going to take time," said First Assistant Secretary Ramage.
Ramage identified one of the problems facing Australia's defence industry, saying it lacks major platforms and systems that it can export overseas.
"You have got to look at the capabilities that Australian industry has now and where those capabilities are competitive internationally, where those opportunities are," explained Ramage.
"Australian industry does not have a lot of major platforms and systems that it is trying to sell overseas."
But Ramage said SMEs will see the most benefit from the new strategy, with Australia's best opportunities lying within its niche capabilities.
"A lot of it is small to medium enterprises with niche components of capabilities, niche export opportunities, and that is where building into those supply chain opportunities is important," said Ramage.
"But as we use the investment that we have, as we get that defence capability investment, as we are building Australian industry up, to realise those opportunities it is doing it hand-in-hand so that over time, in five to 10 years time, we should be really doing a lot better in terms of those outcomes."
In March this year, Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne revealed work was underway on the Defence Export Strategy, a new component of the 2016 Defence White Paper.
The minister revealed that Australia currently ranks fifth in the world for defence imports, but 20th in the world for exports, numbers the government is striving to reverse with the new strategy.
A spokesperson for Minister Pyne told Defence Connect that while no official date has been scheduled, "the Defence Export Strategy is currently under development by Defence and is scheduled to be released late in 2017".
"Extensive consultation is underway between Defence, industry and DFAT [Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade] to ensure the strategy works coherently to help open up new export markets for Australian defence materiel," the spokesperson said.
Minister Pyne said that the new strategy will be in line with the government's economic objectives and will aim to enhance Australia's future economic prosperity.
"This [the strategy] will be in support of our economic, foreign and trade policy objectives, and defence capabilities and national security goals," he said in March.