The release of the 2016 Defence White Paper was the starting point of unprecedented investment in Australia’s defence capabilities, with the increased investment resulting in stronger engagement from industry.
Defence Connect spoke with president of Australian Industry & Defence Network's Queensland Charter Carl Quarterman, who has been with the industry association for several years and has seen the growth of the industry, particularly in the last few months.
"There's definitely an increase in engagement, if you like, from the primes and from Defence trying to find ways to increase the Australian industry content into activities going on ... A lot more conversations, and opportunities to have the conversations, certainly,"" Quarterman said.
So far this year, Queensland has been announced as the site for support work on the Pacific Patrol Boats. The work will be performed at Austal’s existing contracted facility in Cairns and will see engagement with local subcontractors in the region.
Queensland has also been shortlisted by Rheinmetall as one of its preferred locations for the $20 billion LAND 400 project, which Quarterman said would be a huge boon for the state.
"I think in the situation of the LAND 400, there is incremental value in the ongoing support and long-term maintenance of the vehicles," he said.
"A lot of those vehicles are going to be located in Queensland. If the setup of the supply chain through the manufacturer can be more closely aligned to the support and maintenance supply chain, then that's going to make for a better longevity of project and better through life support of the vehicles. I think that's one of the things that Queensland can offer in that they're located closer to where the vehicles will be."
For SMEs hoping to get into the Queensland defence industry with future projects looming, Quarterman said one of the best starting points is to break into a prime's supply chain.
"From an AIDN perspective, in Queensland we hold monthly meetings where we typically get primes to our meetings to give a presentation on their supply chain, and it gives our members opportunity to network with those prime organisations as well as some of the other presenters included," he said.
"People from the CDIC and Defence Industry Queensland and [those] sort of bodies who are there to support the activities of companies getting the work in defence."