The government has announced a support plan for Australia’s defence industry amid the continued economic downturn. Though the release does hint at ongoing evaluations of how “appropriate relief” might be extended to contractors, the key feature identified in the short-term was fast-tracked payments to defence industry suppliers.
According to Defence, some suppliers will receive payment up to two weeks earlier than usual. Minister for Defence Linda Reynolds said that COVID-19 posed an unprecedented challenge to Australia’s defence industry. This could help the industry – which employs 35,000 Australians – to weather the economic fallout.
“Defence industry makes an important contribution to our economy, our security posture and our safety,” she said.
“That is why we brought forward the payment of more than $500 million to businesses in Australia, which ensures money is flowing into the Australian economy at a time of acute pressure.”
Minister for Defence Industry Melissa Price said that the Morrison government was committed to ensuring Australian industry personnel were supported, so they could keep equipping and sustaining Australian troops.
"Australian small businesses are the backbone of our defence industry and we will continue to do everything we can to relieve the current pressures they’re under,” she said.
“Minister Reynolds and I are speaking today with major defence companies and industry groups to hear how we can further assist and provide support to Aussie workers and small businesses in our defence industry.
Measures put in place include:
Accelerating payments to Australian suppliers by making payment as soon as possible after their invoice has been approved for payment by Defence, irrespective of the contracted payment terms;
Reinforcing to strategic prime contractors the important role their Australian sub-contractors play in ensuring prompt payment across the supply chain; and
Providing appropriate relief to contractors in circumstances of demonstrated adverse effects as a result of the COVID-19 crisis on the supply of labour, equipment, materials or services required to meet current contractual obligations.
Defence said that assistance will also extend "to the sizeable Defence estate with a continued focused on delivering capital facilities and infrastructure works across Australia to support existing and new capabilities". All current and future contractual clauses have been amended to provide time and cost relief for COVID-19 impacts under its construction contracts.