Shadow minister for defence industry Matt Keogh has responded to the recently announced report and review into the efficacy of the Centre for Defence Industry Capability.
Australia’s burgeoning defence industry applauded the Commonwealth government commissioning an extensive review of the Centre for Defence Industry Capability (CDIC) in April.
After an extensive consultation (140 submissions and more than 50 interviews), the review has found that while helping to drive “improved business operations” for some stakeholders, the CDIC’s business advisory and facilitation services have “become generic” and are “not sufficiently targeted at defence-specific support”.
The review noted that dissatisfied CDIC clients had lamented the “inconsistency or relevance of advice provided”, which they described as “generic and transactional in nature”.
Some stakeholders also criticised the CDIC’s engagement and workshop offers, which were viewed as “one size fits all” and “not appropriately tailored” to the varying needs of the industrial base.
While Defence Minister Linda Reynolds said a genuine partnership between Defence and industry was critical to ensuring the industrial base “effectively supports Australia’s national security”.
“Making it easier for industry to work with Defence to access opportunities in the defence sector, such as through the work of the CDIC, is essential in this endeavour. This government has faith in Australian businesses to provide the technological advances and superior capability that Defence needs to protect Australia’s national interests,” Minister Reynolds explained.
This was reinforced by Defence Industry Minister Melissa Price, who explained that the review has provided the government with an opportunity to strengthen the CDIC and bolster support for businesses as they grapple with the economic impact of the COVID-19 pandemic.
“Implementing the review’s recommendations will ensure that the centre continues connecting Defence and small business in a simpler, more cost-effective and outcomes-orientated way,” Minister Price said.
Minister Reynolds and Minister Price have confirmed that the government has accepted key recommendations regarding the relocation of the CDIC and scrapping the employee limit to boost access to services.
However, opposition defence industry spokesperson Matt Keogh MP has issued a scathing response to the government’s announcement and the outcome of the review into the effectiveness of the CDIC.
“The report into the CDIC released today shows the Morrison government’s failings to support Australian companies into the Defence supply chain.
“Established in 2016, the CDIC was intended to support the Defence supply chain through both business grants and mentorship; however, one in five successful grant recipients reported that they saw no tangible benefit from the grants they received,” Mr Keogh explained.
Mr Keogh added, “This eye-opening review of the CDIC is a shopping list of the Morrison government’s failings to support Australian companies into the Defence supply chain.
“After reading the concerns highlighted in this report, it is clear Minister Price was trying to hide the Morrison government’s complete mishandling and mismanagement of defence industry,” Mr Keogh said.
“We must be investing in Australia’s sovereign defence capability, developing our local businesses and providing sustainable jobs for the Australian industry of the future,” Mr Keogh said.
“Australian defence businesses have been crying out for support for a long time now, and it doesn’t help that we are still waiting for the government to begin its much-delayed Australian industry capability (AIC) audit.
“Australian industry needs the Morrison government to implement measurable and enforceable Australian industry capability requirements into defence contracts, so industry has assurance they are working towards a tangible outcome and our nation develops the sovereign capabilities it requires. The ultimate success of the CDIC is measured in Australian industry involvement in Defence projects, and that is in decline. That says everything you need to know about the success of the Morrison government's approach to AIC and the CDIC,” Mr Keogh said.
The review assessed the CDIC’s current operational model to ensure it can continue supporting the growth of the Australian defence industry now and into the future.
The review offered an opportunity to strengthen the delivery of the CDIC, clarify its role and assess its capacity to continue to support small and regional businesses looking to enter the defence market or grow their industry footprint.
The full review of the CDIC is available here.