The Australian Industry Capability (AIC) Program, which aims to create opportunities for Australian industry to compete on their merits for Defence contracts, is an increasingly crucial part of the ongoing Defence push to improve links with manufacturers and suppliers.
Much of the work involved in advancing this agenda includes the expert input of First Assistant Secretary of the Defence Industry Policy Division Kate Louis.
In an interview with Defence Connect, Louis underlined the importance of the AIC initiative in boosting the Australian industry capability as it pertains to the long-term needs of the armed forces.
"The big programs are really important, and as part of that a really important stream of work that we've been working on is the Australian Industry Capability Plans," she added.
"We've really been building and working on the template with the Capability Acquisition Sustainment Group (CASG) to make sure that those plans develop Australian industry capability in a really enduring sense … not just project by project."
Louis said the strategy simply must include a strong focus on charting exactly which Australian industry capabilities could prove to be available to Defence for the long-term.
"Not just set up a project here and then pack it up and go home, but [to] really have those capabilities enduring for us," she added. "There's also a focus in those plans now on innovation and what that can be."
Louis also flagged a growing understanding within the ADF culture itself around the concept of a truly resilient local industry capability.
"The Australian Industry Capability Plan is an important part of that," she said. "[But] I know there are a lot of conversations that go on about how you define Australian content."
While Louis acknowledged the difficulty in pinpointing what constituted truly Australian content, she noted that, ultimately, for Defence it all came down to ensuring enduring capability.
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"[This] may not just involve paying tax here, for example, or just [servicing] the local overheads," she concluded. "It’s really about skill building, innovation [and] technology transfer; giving Australian industry a real value added work program as part of a contract."