"I think probably the biggest challenge facing the defence industry at the moment is certainty," explained Gates.
"It's building the capability to make what we can, as we understand what the federal government is giving to us, and then we'll get the opportunities to expand on that for the benefit of the state."
And as WA looks to capitalise on these opportunities in an uncertain industry, Gates says collaboration with the other states will be crucial.
"I believe collaboration is part of it," said Gates. "Very much so.
"I know all the other defence advocates and I know what they're trying to achieve. And I know the national aims of them as well. So, I look forward being part of that team and getting to work with them and protecting our [WA's] own interests, of course, at all times.
"Off the top of my head, a bit more time in West Australia, which is always great. But I have worked in the past with Premier [Mark] McGowan and with Minister [for Defence Issues Paul] Papalia of course in the Navy. And I'm looking forward to renewing those acquaintances to bring forward a certain maritime perspective for West Australia and to enhance the defence capabilities of the state. And do a little advertising, a bit of marketing, for West Australia, what's already here. And just making sure that everyone in the eastern states also knows what's here."
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.