Defence West has appointed defence stalwart and former Lockheed Martin Australia and New Zealand chief executive Rear Admiral (Ret'd) Raydon Gates AO, CSM to the role.
Gates retired from the Royal Australian Navy in 2008, after 37 years of service. He has served in a number of leadership roles including Maritime Commander Australia, Commander of the Australian Defence College and Defence Attaché and Head Australian Defence Staff in Washington, DC.
Gates also sits as non-executive director on the QinetiQ Australia board, the Elbit Systems Australia board and is a special adviser to defence electrical systems and C4I provider Cablex.
Defence Connect spoke with the retired Rear Admiral upon his appointment, who said he was attracted to role not only because of his West Australian heritage, but because of the opportunities it will offer him to contribute to the benefit of the country.
"So I am a Western Australian, so I am very keen to see Western Australia continue to develop and grow into the defence space," explainted Gates.
"The big reason, of course, is that the challenge is for all the states is how do we meet the government's requirements – the challenges the government has thrown out – in respect to national shipbuilding, to sovereignty of our defence industry.
"The opportunities are huge here in this state to contribute to, one, for the benefit of WA but, more importantly, for the benefit of Australia."
The role will see Gates divide his time between Perth and Canberra and be supported by the Office of Defence West within the Department of Jobs, Tourism, Science and Innovation.
WA Premier Mark McGowan said the appointment is part of the state's plans to grow its defence sector and that the new roll will see Gates advocate to secure more employment opportunities for West Australians.
"Rear Admiral Gates will advocate for Western Australia's defence industry in the nation's capital, in order to secure more jobs for Western Australians," said McGowan.
"This appointment is the next step in the Western Australian government's efforts to grow the state's defence sector, following the appointment of a dedicated Minister for Defence Issues and the establishment of the Office of Defence West."
Defence Issues Minister Paul Papalia added that Gates' experience in the Navy and with Lockheed Martin made him the perfect candidate for the role.
"Rear Admiral Gates is the ideal person to fill this position, drawing on his extensive experience from within the Royal Australian Navy as well as his time leading the Australian arm of a major defence contractor," Minister Papalia said.
"I look forward to working closely with Rear Admiral Gates to secure a greater share of projects within the six capability streams outlined in the 2016 Defence White Paper and also identify potential export opportunities.
"Rear Admiral Gates will be Western Australia's crucial eyes, ears and voice in the nation's capital."