Victorian Minister for Jobs, Innovation and Trade Martin Pakula has welcomed the appointment of industry and defence expert John O'Callaghan as the new defence industry advocate.
O’Callaghan is taking the reins from Victoria’s first ever defence industry advocate, Greg Combet AM. Mr O’Callaghan has been a member of the Defence Council Victoria since 2017 and has worked as a senior executive in both government and industry roles in the defence sector.
Mr O'Callaghan told Defence Connect, "It is a considerable honour to be appointed to the role and I am looking forward to the challenges ahead."
In his role as advocate, O’Callaghan will play a leading role in promoting Victoria’s brightest defence talent and best technology to the world, working with contractors, supply chain companies and R&D organisations to ensure the Victorian defence sector grows to create more jobs and more economic benefit for the state.
Minister Pakula said, "I’m pleased to appoint John O’Callaghan as the advocate for Victoria’s defence industry – he will be a strong champion for the sector and help us showcase our best defence talent to the world."
Defence technology has been identified by the Victorian government as one of seven priority industries that will drive Victorian economic growth and jobs. In 2016, the Victorian government released a Defence Technologies Sector Strategy outlining its plan for future growth. This strategic direction is provided by the Victorian Department of Jobs, Precincts and Regions.
"For SMEs in particular, who are looking to engage with defence and to take advantage of the current expansion of defence capabilities, I cannot stress enough the importance of establishing and nurturing relationships with your local defence industry partners, the uniformed services and the Department of Defence, especially CASG," Mr O'Callaghan added.
Through strategic investment in facilities, industry skills, research and development, Victoria has developed significant expertise in delivering major defence platforms and capabilities for the Royal Australian Navy, Australian Army and the Royal Australian Air Force.
Mr O'Callaghan told Defence Connect, "Victoria has some great success stories of SMEs, like Marand which has established a business model which incorporates both defence and civil manufacturing opportunities. The success of businesses like Marand highlight the capabilities and value proposition Victorian defence industry brings to the ADF and Government’s export agenda."
Victoria’s capabilities match global defence industry needs in areas spanning information and communication technology (ICT) systems; cyber technologies; managing the interface between human and digital systems; robotics, aerospace and unmanned aerial systems; medical counter measures; defence infrastructure; professional services; science and research and advanced manufacturing technologies.
Victoria’s defence sector contributes up to $8 billion to the state’s economy each year, employing around 18,500 people in 770 businesses that manufacture equipment and provide services for defence activities.