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Op-Ed: Victoria stepping up to support advanced technology defence industry

In a feature Defence Connect article on 27 November 2020, Victorian senator David Van called on the Victorian government to step up its efforts to attract long-term, high-tech, advanced defence manufacturing employment and training opportunities in the state. The good news is this is occurring, explains Victorian defence industry advocate John O'Callaghan.

In a feature Defence Connect article on 27 November 2020, Victorian senator David Van called on the Victorian government to step up its efforts to attract long-term, high-tech, advanced defence manufacturing employment and training opportunities in the state. The good news is this is occurring, explains Victorian defence industry advocate John O'Callaghan.

Victoria’s small and medium businesses that supply Australia’s defence sector are already grabbing a share of the $270 billion capital defence expenditure over the next decade. This will continue.

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The Victorian government has committed $6 million in the 2020-21 budget to secure strategic defence opportunities and help Victoria’s supply chain companies win defence contracts.

The funding includes $3.5 million to support the continue operations of the government’s Defence Capture Team activities and the Victorian defence industry advocate, extend the operations of the Defence Science Institute for a further 12 months and showcase Victorian businesses at the 2021 Land Forces international industry exposition.

The government has provided $1.3 million to deliver a SME supply chain digital uplift in addition to a $1.2 million investment to support tailored engagement and targeting of high-potential opportunities for Victoria.

Victoria’s defence industry will be further supported by the $60 million Manufacturing and Industry Development Fund which will provide funding for new equipment and implementation of new manufacturing technologies. The $40 million Industry Recovery and Growth Fund will provide grant assistance for large sector projects that create jobs and drive economic recovery.

The Victorian government is working closely with Hanwha to identify a site for its new Geelong facility to house assembly of self-propelled howitzers under LAND 8116. This meets the Prime Minister’s commitment for Geelong as the best location. This project will create around 350 new jobs, deliver work for over 130 supply-chain companies and pave the way for future advanced technology opportunities identified in the recently released Defence Force Structure Plan 2020.

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Hanwha will build and maintain 30 self-propelled howitzers and 15 armoured ammunition resupply vehicles and their supporting systems for the Australian Army, injecting up to $7 billion in the local economy.

More than 60 per cent of supply chain companies engaged by Rheinmetall for LAND 400 Phase 2 are based in Victoria. These companies, such as Cablex located in East Bentleigh, have proven advanced technology capabilities on Bushmaster and Hawkei vehicles. The skills established for these programs is being applied to assembly of Rheinmetall’s 211 Boxer combat reconnaissance vehicles, 12 mission modules and associated support systems. The nearly $5 billion contract will offer considerable work for Australian industry, with the first vehicles being delivered from February 2022.

Hanwha and Rheinmetall will shortly commence Risk Mitigation Activity (RMA) for LAND 400 Phase 3, a program estimated to cost between $18-$27 billion. The selected tenderer will deliver 450 tracked infantry fighting vehicles for the Australian Defence Force. Victoria-based companies can be expected to feature in the supply chain for delivery and support of these vehicles.

Lockheed Martin Australia’s investment in STELaRLab in Melbourne is testament to the importance placed in the nation’s research laboratories and high-technology industry.

In a recent study with AlphaBeta, Lockheed Martin Australia reported on the full scale of its economic impact across the Australian economy. The work focussed on the real and direct engagement between Lockheed Martin Australia and its local supply chain.

Australian industry participation in the F-35 Joint Strike Fighter program has seen the growing capability of Australia’s sovereign industrial base, with $409 million injected into the global supply chain. Lockheed Martin Australia’s supply chain spending had doubled to $697 million since 2017 supporting 675 local suppliers, such as Marand and RUAG located in Melbourne.

Victoria captured 45 per cent or $316 million of total supplier spend by Lockheed Martin Australia in 2019.

Melbourne-based Amaero International has announced a purchase order from Boeing for the manufacture of metal evaluation parts. The company is working closely with Boeing’s Global Supply Chain program to strengthen Amaero’s long-term strategic direction.

The Defence Council of Victoria will continue to ensure that Victoria is able to secure ongoing valuable work in support of the Australian Defence Force. Four new representatives were recently appointed to the Defence Council to advise government on how best to support growth across the state’s defence industry supply chain.

Professor Regina Crameri (associate dean – allied health at RMIT), Carly Scott (chief executive of Equatorial Launch Australia), Michael Flowers (former chief executive of Chemring Group) and Mark Dixon (chief executive at Wodonga Council) have joined the council. They will work closely with the Victorian defence industry advocate, John (Johnno) O’Callaghan, and existing members of the council to support and advocate for the state’s defence sector.

Victoria will continue to lead the nation in a range of high-technology, advanced manufacturing and next generation technologies. Investment in a skilled and focused workforce will continue to be a high priority of the Victorian government. Victoria’s Defence Science Institute (DSI), in close partnership with the Defence Science and Technology Group, will continue to link defence industry companies with state, national and international universities as well as DMTC.

Along with other states and territories and Defence and other federal agencies, Victoria has played its part in assisting defence industry to meet the challenges of COVID-19. This included working closely to ensure vital supplies and support are able to allow the Australian Defence Force to meet its demanding responsibilities. This level of co-operation will continue.

John O’Callaghan offers a wealth of defence industry experience and knowledge, with a career spanning both defence industry and Department of Defence.

O’Callaghan spent 15 years in the Department of Defence, including as executive assistant to the secretary, Department of Defence; senior executive officer, intelligence and security co-ordination; assistant secretary, major capital equipment co-ordination; assistant secretary, special naval communications project; and private secretary to former minister for defence Kim Beazley. O’Callaghan later became senior parliamentary adviser to Beazley.

O'Callaghan is a member of the advisory board of defence electrical systems and C4I provider, Cablex. Prior to this, he spent five years as executive director of the Australian Industry Group Defence Council, providing advocacy and support to CEOs of Australia’s leading defence companies on issues pertaining to the future of Australia’s defence industry.

Op-Ed: Victoria stepping up to support advanced technology defence industry
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