Tasmania set sights on US defence industry opportunities

Minister for Defence Industry Christopher Pyne tours the Australian Maritime College in Tasmania last year.

Tasmania’s Advanced Manufacturing and Defence Industries Minister Jeremy Rockliff will lead a trade delegation to the US next week in a bid to secure defence industry contracts.

Minister Rockliff will travel with Tasmanian defence advocate Rear Admiral (Ret'd) Steve Gilmore and eight local businesses to Washington, DC for the Sea Air Space expo, and to meet senior US Navy Officials and industry leaders.

The minister said the state government is looking to throw its support behind the industry and capitalise on the $195 billion federal government investment in the national sector, with collaboration a key factor in securing more work.

"Our local manufacturers, business and educational institutions continue to tell us that collaboration is one of Tasmania’s strengths and vital in cementing Tasmania’s defence supply future," Minister Rockliffe said.

"We know as a government we aren’t the ones bidding for multimillion-dollar defence work, but we are here to help our local companies connect with national and international defence buyers and suppliers in a co-ordinated way."

There are around 30 businesses in the state currently working in defence. The government has estimated that while for many firms defence is only one of their markets, the total employment by these firms is an estimated 1,950 jobs, generating sales revenue of $340 million per year.

Minister Rockliffe said the contribution of the state's defence industry could grow significantly over the next 10 years.

"Our 2016 Defence Strategy is designed to leverage off the Australian government’s commitment to invest $195 billion during the next eight years in defence, across areas like new weapons, platforms, systems, enabling equipment, facilities and information and communications technology," Minister Rockliffe said.

"If Tasmanian industry is to win its per capita share of the $195 billion Defence Integrated Investment Program, our defence industry would grow to more than $400 million per year within the next 10 years."

Companies and institutions across the state within the defence industry include Elphinstone, Taylor Bros, Liferaft Systems Australia, CBG Systems, PFG Aquatruck, Fiomarine Industries, Pivot Maritime International, Delta Hydraulics, Currawong Engineering, Forager Foods, the University of Tasmania’s Australian Maritime College and Defence Network.

One company that is already active and successful in this area is Penguin Composites, which recently won a vital contract to supply components for the Australian Army’s new Hawkei protected vehicle.

John van der Woude and his team at Penguin Composites will build bonnets and various other parts for the Hawkei vehicle in a contract signed with Thales Australia. The three-year contract is worth $8 million and is expected to create about 15 additional jobs at the company’s facility.

Thales Australia will produce 1,100 Hawkei vehicles for Defence and more than 1,000 trailers and the announcement further consolidates the future of Penguin Composites.

Tasmania set sights on US defence industry opportunities
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