WA Premier Mark McGowan and Minister for Defence Issues Paul Papalia have officially launched the Western Australia Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan at the inaugural Indo-Pacific Defence Conference.
The strategy represents the first time a West Australian government has committed to a strategic plan dedicated to defence and the defence industry, bringing WA in line with every other state and jurisdiction in the country.
The priorities for assisting the defence sector are centred on harnessing the state's competitive advantages and pursuing industries of the future.
Premier McGowan said, "Western Australia has incredibly strong manufacturing capabilities, with many local companies at the forefront of world-leading technology to service the defence sector.
"For the first time, we now have a strategy to build on these already-established strengths and champion Western Australia to secure a greater share of defence contracts for our state and create new opportunities for innovation," he said.
The Strategic Plan outlines six key strategies:
- Supporting a strong enduring defence presence: Develop and promote the case for WA to be the principal location for maintenance and sustainment for the future submarines and frigates. These contracts are expected to exceed $50 billion through the life of the new fleets;
- Growing the state's defence industry capability and contribution: Facilitate business opportunities and collaboration overseas to maximise domestic and international defence opportunities;
- Developing strategic infrastructure: Establish an across-government task force to undertake strategic planning for the expansion and management of Henderson and the Australian Marine Complex;
- Building research and innovation partnerships: Work with the Australian government to establish a Defence Science Centre to enhance research collaborations and engagements between universities, industry and defence;
- Advancing education, training and skilling: Establish a Defence Office in the South Metropolitan TAFE to lead a co-ordinated and collaborative approach to the development of a WA defence workforce; and
- Supporting veterans and families: Develop, in consultation with defence and local governments, a Veterans and Defence Families Strategy to better support veterans and their families.
"Further to that, the strategy will provide nation-leading support for our Defence Force, the men and women who sacrifice so much for our nation, to assist with employment pathways and support for injured veterans," Premier McGowan said.
The Defence Science Centre will be a collaboration between the state government, the Defence Science and Technology Group and Western Australian universities.
This centre will maximise WA's defence-related research opportunities and will be a primary source of facilitating research and development connections to foster a globally engaged, competitive and innovative defence sector.
Minister Papalia said, "We are also home to numerous world-class universities, defence focused prime contractors and small to medium-sized enterprises, with many clustered at the Australian Marine Complex in Henderson."
The strategic plan outlines the state's vision and roadmap for how the McGowan government will pursue opportunities to support defence and industry requirements. It provides the basis for guiding the state's public sector and Defence West, and identifies the key actions required to progress the government's vision.
"The WA defence industry is a crucial asset to not only support the Australian Defence Force but also assist in diversifying the state's economy and creating jobs," Minister Papalia explained.
The full Western Australia Defence and Defence Industries Strategic Plan is available here.