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PODCAST: Shaping the conversation in defence industry, Kate Louis, head of defence and industry policy, Australian Industry Group

PODCAST: Shaping the conversation in defence industry, Kate Louis, head of defence and industry policy, Australian Industry Group

“Australian Industry Group Defence Council working with Defence is really about recognising defence industry as that fundamental input to capability and about recognising the national security flavour that goes over the top of everything that we do.”

“Australian Industry Group Defence Council working with Defence is really about recognising defence industry as that fundamental input to capability and about recognising the national security flavour that goes over the top of everything that we do.”

This week on the Defence Connect Podcast, former First Assistant Secretary Defence Industry Policy Kate Louis joins us in her new role as head of defence and industry policy of Australian Industry Group.

Louis takes us through her 20-year career in the Department of Defence, specialising in capability development acquisition and defence industry policy, and her decision to join Ai Group and lead its Defence Council.

The former First Assistant Secretary discusses the dangerous new world developing out of cyber security threats and how this is affecting the defence industry, how Ai Group is leading the discussion with Defence around exports and the Australian Standard for Defence Contracting (ASDEFCON) suite of tendering and contracting templates.

Enjoy the podcast,

The Defence Connect team.


Listen to previous episodes of the Defence Connect podcast:

Episode 426: PODCAST: WA ready, willing and able to support defence industry opportunities – Paul Papalia CSC MLA, Minister for Defence Industry and Veterans Issues
Episode 425: PODCAST: Unpacking the independent analysis into Navy’s surface combatant fleet
Episode 424: PODCAST: Bringing together Defence, industry, and academia to drive innovation – Dr David Kershaw, DSTG
Episode 423: PODCAST: Unpacking the role and responsibilities of Parliament’s oversight committees
Episode 422: SPOTLIGHT: How cyber security is essential for the delivery of AUKUS Pillar I, with CyberCX’s Alastair MacGibbon
Episode 421: SPOTLIGHT: Securing freedom of manoeuvre in the electromagnetic spectrum, with DEWC Services CEO Allan Dundas
Episode 420: SPOTLIGHT: Driving efficiency and security in Australia’s defence industry, with Dassault Systèmes’ Francois Mathieu and Shaun Edsall
Episode 419: SPOTLIGHT: Enhancing the training continuum, with CAE’s Simon Ancona
Episode 418: PODCAST: Shaping the Australian Navy’s future fleet, with Professor Peter Dean, United States Studies Centre - University of Sydney
Episode 417: PODCAST: Balance critical to women succeeding in defence industry – Nathalie Sarlin, Buzzworks, Female Defence Leader of the Year 2023

Announcer: Welcome to the Defence Connect Podcast with your host, Phil Tarrant.

Phil Tarrant: Good day everyone. It's Phil Tarrant here. I'm the host of the Defence Connect Podcast and thanks for joining me today. I've got a bit of a back to the future, someone in the studio who we met with over a year ago, one of our first podcasts back in 2016. It's now 2018 so it's two years ago really, but we had a really good chat. This person, at that point in time, was working within Department of Defence within the CASG group and was integral in the development of one of the milestone platform deliveries last year, the Centre for Defence Industry Capability, also involved in the Defence Innovation Hub genesis, Kate Louis. Kate, how you going?

Kate Louis: Hey, very well. Thanks, Phil. Thanks for having me back.

Phil Tarrant: Now you come here wearing a different hat this time. When we spoke at the back end of 2016, you were the First Assistant Secretary Defence Industry Policy. Today, you're the new head, relatively new head of defence Industry Policy at the Australian Industry Groups so you've joined the world of industry associations.

Kate Louis: Yeah, that's exactly right, Phil, and I guess most importantly, the executive director of the Defence Council for the Australian Industry Group.

Phil Tarrant: How's that going?

Kate Louis: I love it, Phil. It's really been a great change for me. I had a wonderful career in defence. Really enjoyed my 20 years there working in capability development acquisition and then as you say, really enjoyed my time working on industry policy, but it's a been a great change. We're a peak body for the Australian defence industry so it brings together a lot of what I'm really passionate about in terms of building local Australian defence industry. We've got some really important areas of focus for us around bringing defence, and government, and industry together for national security and also, to really build that local defence industry.

Phil Tarrant: How'd you end up in this new role? Talk us through the story. You wake up one morning. You went, "Okay, it's time to change. I'm going to join industry association land." Or I imagine it was a longer incubation than that. What's the back story to that?

Kate Louis: Look, 20 years is a long time. I really felt I gave everything I had for defence and I loved it, and I just had so many wonderful leaders that I learned from there in terms of defence capability and built a real passion for that. Then I guess the Australian Industry Group job came along and it was just perfect for me in terms of my commitment to Australian Industry and wanting to see things from the other side and look through a different lens. It's fantastic to be able to work with the CEOs and managing directors of some really important companies in Australia. Our chair is Mr. Chris Jenkins, the CEO of Thales Australia. Our deputy chair is Mr. Ian Irving, who's the CEO of Northrop Grumman. Being able to work with the calibre of those kind of people representing Australian Industry, it's the cat's pyjamas.

Phil Tarrant: It is the cat's pyjamas. We had Ian Irving on the podcast probably late last year, 2017. Go and check it out. Obviously, a business that's grown rapidly over the time in his tenure as the CEO and, obviously, people of that calibre and Chris Jenkins working with you within the council must be interesting dynamics. Very senior people within defence with very big businesses, but also competitors as well, must be interesting sitting around the table with these guys sometimes.

Kate Louis: Yeah. Look, it's a wonderful opportunity to me as I said to work with people of such calibre. They are fierce competitors in some situations, but what has been eye opening for me is just what shared values we have with Defence and what a valuable role we can play in terms of providing trusted advice to government and to defence. It's been a wonderful opportunity.

Phil Tarrant: From what I understand about Ai group, you cover a lot of different markets, defence being one of them and I guess the rationale for the Ai Group is to help with sort of policy development and servicing your members so two sides of the coin, and irrespective whether it's defence or other markets that you work within. How would you extend that sort of ... for our listeners that aren't sure of Ai Group and what it does, can you just give us a bit of a background?

Kate Louis: Yeah, absolutely, Phil. I guess one of the great things about being part of the defence council of the Australian Industry Group is that we have this big infrastructure behind us, which is the Australian Industry Group itself, which is a member-based organisation, one of the peak bodies of Australian industry, really as you said has incredible focus on policy development. I've met some real though leaders in that context providing thoughtful and trusted advice to government. We have some thought leaders around energy policy particularly, which has been very topical and of relevance to Australian business' defence and more broadly, they also offer a huge range of services to members across workplace relations, developing policies that are friendly to the business environment and legal services and, of course, workforce development.

Phil Tarrant: On the policy development side of things, I'll simplify things that's the way I operate. You talk to industry and you understand their concerns, their opportunity, their challenges, etc. Then you will curate, aggregate them together and go back to government and say, "Have you thought about this?" Is that pretty much how it works?

Kate Louis: Yeah. I'll talk specifically around the defence council. We have our national executive, which meets a couple times a year and really shows that leadership in policy development. The other mechanism that we have is these working groups, which I chair or co-chair with Defence. They're around things like contracting commercial and ethics so I have to give great credit and it's just been a wonderful opportunity to work with Defence on those working groups. They've been very open, really collaborative in terms of operating and helping me co-chair those working groups, working on things like intellectual property clauses for example. They've been really open sharing where they want to take intellectual property, for example, which of course can represent the real crown jewels for something like the defence industry. We will share, and we will talk, and we will collaborate around those.

Kate Louis: Another big area is something like our security working group. As you'd know, it's a new and really dangerous world in cyber security that's affecting the defence industry. We work and we've just stood up a new security working group, for example, working with very senior leaders in defence who work in security as their day-to-day jobs and we like to think we're a real consultative forum and an effective forum for them to come to to hear industry's voice around what we might be able to really build the cyber security defences of the country. I'm just giving you a couple of examples of how we try to be an effective consultative forum and develop that policy.

Phil Tarrant: How accommodating is government? If you rock up with a white paper, for example, some sort of benchmarking document and say, "This is the voice of industry. You should be thinking about this," or "As you go down this path, can you please include these type of user opinions," is the government accommodating? You're probably well positioned to answer that because you've sat within government for 20 years.

Kate Louis: Yeah, yeah, yeah. Look, absolutely. My experience over the last couple of months has been that Defence has been really open, really engaged, really looking for defence industry to lean in and say, "These are the things that are important to us around security or around intellectual property ideas or around post-separation employment," for example, and I have found them really open to ideas and wanting to work in a collaborative way because I really do believe that there is a sense that this has a national security outcome over and above individual interests. The whole Australian Industry Group Defence Council working with Defence is really about recognising defence industry as that fundamental input to capability and about recognising the national security flavour that goes over the top of everything that we do.

Phil Tarrant: If I was going to sit in one of the defence council meetings that you chair, fly on the wall, and we're all flies on the walls here because we listen to the Defence Connect Podcast, what would be the two or three key sort of marquee or major issues that the defence council is working for that they hope to have some voice within government circles whether it's Parliament or Defence?

Kate Louis: Yeah. Look, I think that's a great question and to some extent, we are still working Defence and working on our priorities, but I would just mention a few I guess in terms of the commercial contracting and ethics working group. It's really about working with Defence on what's called the ASDEFCON suite or working on the contracting suite because that really shapes that relationship between Defence and industry so how we take that forward and what kind of a framework we have in terms of negotiating those big agreements and those big acquisitions.

Kate Louis: Another one I'd mention is exports. We have an export forum and so Defence again has been extremely helpful and informative in terms of sharing with us what the two sides of exports now that are so important to government both in terms of the export regulation side and, of course, the export promotion side. That can be quite a complex area now and, of course, the government is working on developing their export strategy, which we're really looking forward to. That's a really important area for Defence and the defence council has been really focused on assisting government and providing what we think is really trusted advice around what that might look like.

Kate Louis: The third one is really the security, those issues around how do we build a cyber secure defence industry? How do we help inform an industry security policy in a really constructive way with Defence? They're some of the big issues that we're working on with Defence in what I think is a really constructive way.

Phil Tarrant: There's no easy answer there. I imagine it's a dialogue that's going to take place for quite some time.

Kate Louis: That's exactly right, that's exactly right.

Phil Tarrant: How do you find the shift from defence, so government into industry bodies have been a easy transition for you?

Kate Louis: Look, I think what's been really pleasing for me, and I think if people are out there in defence or in industry, I think one of the really heartening things is how translatable some of the skills are. I learned so much about leadership, about organisational structures, about accountability in Defence and I think a lot of those you bring a lot of strengths to industry, but at the same time, I've been able to learn a lot of new skills, learned from the companies that I worked with directly. A big shout out and thank you to the companies that I worked with on a day-to-day basis and how much I've learned from them and the issues that really guide them day to day or issues we don't necessarily have to focus on in defence, cash flow, all the skills, and retention, and so on, that are ... It's been a whole new skill set for me. It's been both enjoyable and yet a really good challenge.

Phil Tarrant: Your work within government when you were there, you launched the CDIC at the time. I think you referred to is as opening door to Defence so it was pretty much saying, "Hey, defence industry, come and chat to us. As a government, we're open to connect and engage, and hence dialogue to get you involved in defence programmes." Obviously, there is a substantial amount of money to be spent over the next 10 years and we need good quality businesses involved. Your work within group I imagine there's a thread of commonality with that as well, right, ensuring that not only the primes, but also your SMEs are well equipped to capitalise on these commercial opportunities and that's what they are in many ways. Have you found that coming from a government and in an industry association? Is it pretty much the same conversation?

Kate Louis: Look, I think we are really complementary to the work and hats off absolutely to my good friend, Andrew Garth, who I know was on a previous podcast.

Phil Tarrant: He was on a podcast recently, yeah.

Kate Louis: Go and listen to that one, too. I think we have a really complementary role. They're doing an extraordinary job building the SME capability, providing those government services, also, the innovation hub standing up. I think the industry association like ours really have that complementary role in terms of we've got this enormous naval ship building plan to deliver. We've got as a nation, we have these huge acquisitions and I think all of the organisations right from government through Defence, through the trade associations, and the CDIC, and the innovation hub all need to be pulling in the same direction if we're going to deliver the capability to the ADF, which is the purpose of us.

Phil Tarrant: What's your observations towards defence industry versus other industries? Under the Ai Group banner, they represent Australian industry across pretty much every sector, so Defence being one of them. Is there any commonality that we're seeing in defence industry that we're seeing in any other areas of industry like mining or finance or infrastructure? What's your view there?

Kate Louis: Yeah. Look, I think that's certainly been a big part of my learning is to determine what is our members, what they value in terms of advice that an association like ours can provide and that areas of commonality that go right across business whether you're in Defence, whether you're in mining or oil and gas, and around things like energy policy, that does go across. But at the same time, Phil, I think there's some unique factors within the Defence, the Defence buy, the military specifications, the whole purpose of Defence acquisition, how long and complex and strategic and complicated Defence acquisition can be. So I think in my mind, there's a bit of a mix there around what's common to other industries, but what's unique to Defence and how something like the defence council can bridge across those two areas.

Phil Tarrant: How big is the defence council? It's representative of a number of primes and SME's? Is that right?

Kate Louis: Yeah, yeah. We've got about 36 on the national executive and they represent many of the primes in the country, which we're very proud to represent and obviously, the primes are such an important part of the fabric of our community and our industry providing capability to the ADF, but we also have an eminent array of SMEs and importantly, we also have the national president of AIDN representing the SMEs who is part of our national executive. My view is that we have diversity of use and that when government comes to us and says, "What does industry think of this?" we have a real selection and some real thought leaders and real business leaders in the community to turn to.

Phil Tarrant: In your new role ... It's not really new. It's August last year, wasn't it? So it's semi new.

Kate Louis: That's right. Yeah, yeah, still learning.

Phil Tarrant: When you arrived on your first day and obviously, there would've been a lot of dialogue prior to as you enter through the recruitment process and all that sort of stuff, what did they say? What direction you've been given to achieve? "Kate, we need you to do X?" What is the X?

Kate Louis: I think the most important thing is being really valuable to our members and really implementing a new defence council charter, which we signed in September, which is really around delivering on the purposes of the council, which is as I mentioned to you, bringing Defence and government and the industry together, delivering that national security focus, being that policy and thought leaders, running very efficiently and effectively these working groups with Defence so providing Defence that very effective consultative forum so we can get the views of industry in a collaborative and constructive way.

Kate Louis: Also, working with the rest of Ai Group as well and bringing the defence council and the other parts of Ai group together, but there are obviously other stakeholders in this area as well working very collaboratively with government, with the states, which I know you've talked about in previous podcasts around the roles of the states and the state industry association so having that really effective stakeholder engagement.

Phil Tarrant: What's your views on the state governments at the moment? There's a level of competition obviously between them, Victoria and Queensland with LAND 400, for example. It's pretty fierce. They're hungry to win these major programmes for good reasons or for job growth and all those sort of stuff.

Kate Louis: Yeah, absolutely and understandably.

Phil Tarrant: What's your views on it? Do you think the competition is warranted? Do you think they're playing well? Do you think the fierceness of competition sometimes clouds better judgments or decisions? What's ...

Kate Louis: Yeah. I guess one of the great things for me about the Ai Group Defence Council is that we are national organisation and I think the more that we can work collaboratively, and the most important thing is to deliver capability for the ADF. If that is your key goal, it's really around how we can all do that effectively and efficiently, and working with the states in the context of our federation, it's really important to do that.

Phil Tarrant: The lens that view defence engagement, has it changed at all from sitting within offices in Russell versus across the way over in Barton with a view of an industry association? Has it changed the way you see things or is it still the same?

Kate Louis: Look, I think we have been on a really fantastic trajectory over the last couple of years, which is sort of continuing. I think the industry policy statement was a watershed and so was the white paper Defence 2016, so was the First Principal's Review. I think the trajectory we've been on has been really open, really frank engagement with industry and from my perspective, that's just continued in this role and it's something I really value, and I think it does have that important two aspects to it. There is the industry as a fundamental input to capability and delivery of capability for national security and it also has this really important economic element as well.

Phil Tarrant: Do you think that's trickled down to industry, the fact that it's a fundamental input of capability? I know it was a big buzz word a year or two years ago and really crystallising what that meant, but is it now just part of the furniture do you think?

Kate Louis: I think in my view, it's still a maturing concept across the board. I think there is some really important foundations that are in place to implement it. I would point to the ship building plan as part of that, which really looked at industry as part of capability and how we were going to deliver a national ship building plan taking into account the industry and what we had to achieve. But I do think, which I guess is implicit in your question there, is some way to go in terms of spreading that right through the acquisition process and capability development process, but I'm very positive and optimistic that that's going to continue.

Phil Tarrant: What do you think needs to happen? What levers need to be pulled or buttons need to be pressed to actually get the whole concept of industry being a fundamental input capability just completely embedded and just instinctive into the industry?

Kate Louis: Look, I think there's a number of elements to that. I think leadership is a really important one and I'm probably Kim Gillis' number one fan as head of Capability Acquisition organisation. I think he's doing a wonderful job in flowing that leadership down, leadership in government, leadership in Defence, and leadership in the industry, too. I think just working through the very large acquisition processes, working right through the capability development processes, making sure that industry is embedded, and the concepts around industry and industry planning are embedded right through those projects as we go. I think something like a trade association and industry association like ours has an important role to play in embedding industry as a fundamental input to capability right through the process.

Phil Tarrant: We've got a number of major announcements this year in terms of new equipment builds, SEA5000, LAND 400, these big programs worth billions of dollars and I remember when we spoke late December 2016, I think you referenced it saying people are going to start seeing some income, some contracts, businesses, and I imagine there's a lot of both primes and SMEs waiting in the wings for these announcements to come on and there'd be some champagne corks pop no doubt, but then people need to get down to business, right? That's the hard bit. How prepared do you think Australian business is for building ships and building new combat vehicles? Are we ready? We got the people?

Kate Louis: Yeah. Look, it's a great question. I'm so pleased you're asking me that question. A few years ago, you might've been asking me, "Are we going to have a ship building industry at all?" It's really pleasing that we've set those foundations. I think we are on a journey in terms of building our capability and I think there are a number of different planks that we need to build in terms of those big acquisition programmes. I think there's a huge body of work to do around skilling, around STEM, around work force development. I think the policy development needs to keep going.

Kate Louis: One thing I am really focused on and committed to is around the industrialization of the base. What I mean by that, and this is something I think you have mentioned in previous podcasts, too, at the moment, the shape of our industry is a smallish number of really large primes, which do a wonderful job in terms of developing capability in acquisition; we have a relatively skinny second tier and then, a very large number of SMEs. I think one of the keys to answering your question is being able to develop that base, looking at overseas examples about how they've done that, and about making it a little bit more of a pyramid shape is my understanding of how we're really going to be able to be successful in terms of delivering those acquisition programmes and becoming more of an export-oriented country.

Phil Tarrant: That second layer, not the massive prime and not the SME that are in the middle there. You look at a lot of different Industry sectors and you see that shape as in sort of gets skinny then wide again, rather than a pyramid?

Kate Louis:    Yeah.

Phil Tarrant: How do you see that developing? Is it someone's going to have to come in and start acquiring these talented SMEs to build out that second level? Do you think you're going to see some consolidation there?

Kate Louis: Yeah. Look, I think there's a couple of points to that. First of all is to have a vision for it. That's the most important thing. I think there is some work to do between Defence and industry in mapping and I know there's a huge amount of work, and hats off to Defence for doing the Defence Industry Capability Plan. We're just going to be having a look at that. Then I think there are options we need to develop in terms of building that base and there might be some different strategies you might incorporate in terms of ... I think you might've mentioned previously some alliances with SMEs or some acquisitions. I'm just sort of saying that there are different options that you might want to look at to build out and industrialise that base, but I don't have all the answers, that's for sure.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, it's a tough one. It's going to take some time, but it's not about observation because I speak to a lot of SMEs and most of the time, SMEs and what you do as well, you speak to a lot of SMEs, Kate, most of the times, they lament about not being able to win more defence work or it takes too long to win it, and they've got to keep the doors open and keep the cash coming in and pay their staff and super and whatever else it is. A lot of businesses are always trying to make themselves an attraction business by way of "I want to win more work," but there's probably another way SMEs can think about how can I build myself to be an attraction business to be acquired by other organisations who are looking to build out and fill in this second level or even primes. What's your views on that? Is that a fair call?

Kate Louis: Yeah. Look, as I said, I think there are a number of strategies. I think the most important thing is to work out where we want to take the base and then work with ... There might be ... Different individual circumstances might want different outcomes. I think an important part of that is working with the supply chain development and working out where our businesses can fit in with the supply chains and there are some fantastic programmes being run out of the department of industry to do that. I guess to my mind, it's about bringing those different pieces of the puzzle together, but I do think it's going to be very important and fundamental in order to be delivering the ship building programme and plans and so on to have that really strategic view of the base.

Phil Tarrant: Probably topical question, but what do you think the prime's view on that? You reckon the primes are quite happy with how things look right now or they'll be happy with some larger second-tier competitors coming up nipping on their heels?

Kate Louis: Look, I guess different individuals will have different views, but I know certainly working with Chris Jenkins, our chair, he's very, very committed to Australian Industry. The primes that I work with, very committed to building our local capabilities, working with their supply chains, working with the global supply chains, and working in those programmes. There's probably some individual views, but I think collectively and collaboratively, building that base is in everyone's interest.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, I completely agree with you. We've spoken about the policy development attribute of Ai Group and how you go about formulating that and delivering that to government, relevant stakeholders, but you spoke about member services as well. What do you guys do for your members? What sort of stuff?

Kate Louis: Particularly in the defence council realm, as I said, we have that big policy development theme and working with them in the working groups. We have networking opportunities as well. I do a lot of work bringing people together, collaborating and networking. In terms of the broader Ai Group membership as well, we have a role because we have the defence council doing that introduction, doing some networking. Then, of course, Ai Group itself has member services, which is around workplace relations or their industrial relations strategies, around legal issues. It's really quite a complex industrial relations, workplace relations and so, bringing those services together is something really valued by a member. There's a member advice line of course that is very highly valued by members.

Phil Tarrant: I remember seeing just before Christmas last year TV adverts from the government talking about defence industry. Not saying, "Hey, look, come and join the defence force and join the services." More about join defence industry because there's lots of cool jobs coming up, which I thought was really good and commendable. My discussions with prime, prime CEOs, I think one of the challenges they have is that they're very big organisations, but outside of defence, they're largely unknown. It's an opportunity for the primes to actually have a different conversation with Australia and Australians around the type of work they're doing, and it's something which is on the forefront for them. Are you seeing the same things, this conversation go outside of defence?

Kate Louis: Yeah, absolutely and I couldn't agree more. I think industry policy sounds very boring when you say it like that, "Oh, I'm really interested in industry policy," but when you can see what it can do for a nation, for an industry, for a manufacturing base, I'm very passionate about the societal implications, too, and that we should be a society that makes things, that manufactures things, that build things, and not just a service economy. That's my personal view. I'm very committed to that.

Kate Louis: I think defence industry has these two incredible opportunities in terms of providing our national security. I see our defence industry and our domestic industry as part of our national security posture, and I think that's becoming more part of our narrative, the work force behind the defence force, which I think is a great slogan, but also the economic implications of that. I think building that understanding, building that education out there more broadly in the public about that it could be a wonderful career opportunity and that defence industry has these huge opportunities coming up, strategic and long term they may be with the naval ship building and the other acquisitions, it's a fantastic and wonderful opportunity.

Phil Tarrant: I think it needs to happen because you've got some major ship building undertaking soon to begin and if you read Defence Connect or other sort of media, you'll hear about the lack of skilled workers in this space, they need to upskill. I know this is an area which is quite important to you is the whole STEM side of things so making sure we've got this pipeline of people to actually build this capability for us, which we've set out to do. Within the Ai Group, is that like a, irrespective of the industry sector, is this whole STEM thing an important thing for this transaction?

Kate Louis: Absolutely, yeah, yeah, absolutely. We have a whole dedicated area to workforce development, to apprenticeships, and my boss, Mr. Innes Willox is absolutely committed as the chief executive of Ai Group to getting the skilling and STEM message out. There's lots of different activities going on to develop that, to get that message out because something like a naval ship building plan is going to need a full national endeavour in terms of education, right through the education system, through industry, through government, and through defence.

Phil Tarrant: You mentioned with your bosses, you mentioned Mr. Innes Willox, has defence become a bigger part of his focus as a chief executive of the Ai Group because the opportunities for corporate Australia or Australian business is huge within defence right now? I imagine that's something to shape the wide strategy of Ai group as well?

Kate Louis: Yeah, yeah, absolutely. The defence council has seen a really important part of the Australian Industry Group. It really is an industry with a lot of growth and a lot of potential and we want to be giving our members as best service as we can as well as providing that advice to government.

Phil Tarrant: How are you going with the doing business? I say that in inverted commas within the context of an association versus the Department of Defence. Is it easy to get stuff done now you're outside of corporate sort of bureaucracy is that you can move faster do you think?

Kate Louis: Look, I have to say I did have a wonderful career with Defence and particularly the last couple of years, I thought really being at the heart of helping to develop the industry policy statement was terrific. It is a different context, of course, 20,000 odd public servants in the military environment. It's very different being the executive director of the defence council working directly one on one with companies. I'd just say it's a different challenge and I enjoyed both of them.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, you talk about the ability to transfer skills quite easily across both. It just comes in as just good old fashioned business practises, right?

Kate Louis: Yeah, it really does. I really value the opportunity to grow and I think if you're thinking ... I do think that that mobility between the public service and the private sector is going to be one of the really rich things that we need to continue to provide the skills on both sides.

Phil Tarrant: For our listeners who aren't part of Ai Group or are a member of it, they don't really get too much involved, everyone can have a voice if they choose to get connected and involved?

Kate Louis: Absolutely.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah. How do they go about doing that?

Kate Louis: Please, I'd be very happy to talk to anyone who is interested in Australian Industry Group or the defence council, please, I imagine you can connect through ...

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, you can contact us and we can pass it on, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Quick question, I remember when I first joined defence industry, obviously within the media, I got sort of quite confused about all the different stakeholders who are out there supporting different sectors and sub-sectors of the industry, different industry groups, and workshops, and meetups, or large associations. It's quite a confusing landscape. Is that something that's on sort of the Ai Group's radar about all these sort of maybe disparate groups out there who are all trying to achieve the same thing, which is a good thing in terms of capability building, but what's your role in working with these other groups and associations in defence? Is that something-

Kate Louis: Yeah. Look, I think it's a great question and I know if you're an SME, it can be confusing. We try to work in a very complementary way, in a very collaborative way. As I said, we've got the national president of AIDN on our national executive trying to work very collaboratively with them, also with the government programs as well, the CDIC, and the innovation hub as we have mentioned today already. But we do see the CDIC as the front door. If you're wanting to enter the defence industry and looking at those government programs, but again, I'd be very happy to talk to anyone who's interested in Australian Industry Group.

Phil Tarrant: That's good. We caught up, and you can go and check it out on the podcast feed wherever you're listening to this, this 14th of December 2016 and the 12th of Jan 2017, there's two podcasts we recorded last year. The second one was mainly around export strategy and you were working on that at the time. Obviously, we're one year down the path, Kate. Hope to get back in a year's time for sure.

Kate Louis: Fantastic.

Phil Tarrant: What do you think we'll be talking about in a year?

Kate Louis: That's a really great question. Look, I hope it's about the successful implementation. Some of these really significant decisions will have been made. The big policy pieces will be out and we will be hopefully celebrating with champagne.

Phil Tarrant: Yeah, sounds good. Thanks for your time. Always enjoy catching up and keep engaged, keep connected with us about what you're doing. We do receive your information from the Ai Group and I know under your leadership, the defence council's probably going to keep growing and advancing. We'll look forward to watching it.

Kate Louis: Thanks very much, Phil.

Phil Tarrant: Remember to check out defenceconnect.com.au. If you're not yet subscribing to our daily morning market intelligence, you can do, defenceconnect.com.au/subscribe. Any questions for me and/or Kate, email the team and we'll make sure it goes to the right person, This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.. Anything in particular for Kate, track us down, give me a call, and I'll pass on her details, which is okay? Yeah. If you like to follow us on social media and get your information that way, just search for Defence Connect. We'll be back again next time. Until then, bye-bye.