The Australian government’s move to forge closer links with the local defence industry can be attributed to a conscious effort to replace the income model of the waning mining sector with a new source of revenue, according to the Melbourne-based Defence Materials Technology Centre.
Speaking to Defence Connect’s Phillip Tarrant, DMTC chief executive Mark Hodge said that as the resources boom tapered off, the federal government had embarked on a acquisition spree – spending “billions and billions of dollars”.
“It doesn't take much imagination to see that government might have looked and thought, ‘Here is a chance to continue the growth’,” Hodge said. “We had a miraculous economy over the last couple of decades – no recessions and so on – and there's an opportunity to continue that growth and to tool our industry up by using that procurement policy.”
In addition, Hodge noted a mindset change around the manner in which defence procurement was traditionally conducted.
“There's been a lot of success stories over the journey about how Australian industry can engage positively and can deliver really high-quality, high capability services and products into the defence customer without really breaking the bank from a risk perspective,” he added.
“I think what you've seen, certainly if you go back to the early days of the Joint Strike Fighter program, it showed that Australian industry can participate really actively in some of those programs where you've got to have a demonstrated globally competitive position, and not just something you say you can do but something you demonstrate that you can actually do.
“That probably showed that it can be done as long as you prepare and as long as you put in place programs and support structures that can help industry develop along a reasonable pathway.”