Less bark, same bite – Queensland’s defence industry let down by ‘quiet’ approach

Less bark, same bite - Queensland's defence industry let down by 'quiet' approach
HMAS Pirie, one of the Armidale Class Patrol Boat's to be serviced in Cairns

While key Queensland advocates are confident their state’s defence industry capabilities can match it with the best, one advocate believes there is a distinct advantage the other Australian states have over Queensland.

Australia's Industry & Defence Network's (AIDN) Queensland president Carl Quarterman spoke with Defence Connect and revealed there is a view in the north-east state that it is falling behind other states in the defence industry work because it is not as 'vocal'.

"I think the state government's doing a pretty good job," Quarterman noted.

"However, Queenslanders tend to operate not as vocally as some of the states. The efforts that they're doing tend to be a bit quieter and in the background and tend to be based on the performance that we achieve rather than so much a vocal output of what we're doing.

"I think they're [the state government] doing a pretty good job, but that's through the conversations that I've had on a one-on-one or within our network organisation, when people from state government attend our meeting – you don't get to read about it in the papers."

While Queensland will be used as a site of support work for the Pacific Patrol Boats, as well as being chosen as one of Rheinmetall's shortlisted states as a preferred building site for LAND 400 if the company is successful in its bid, the state's SMEs, capabilities and research have received much less attention than some of its neighbours.

Quarterman stressed the main challenge going forward for Queensland and other states is finding ways to present their state's capabilities in the best possible manner to appeal to the federal government.

"They're a federal government so they need to work out, federally, what's the best idea and it's not always going to be the best for each individual state," Quarterman said.

"I think that's the challenge of the federal system that we've got. Where what's best for one state, or what's best federally, might be good for one state and not appear as good for the other states. Personally ... I'd love to see more work coming to Queensland. That's the challenge of the balance, if you like.

"It does feel like a lot is going toward South Australia at the moment and I guess that's where the other states all have to present their cases to show the incremental value that they can offer over that state and why the federal government would choose somewhere else."

Last month, Queensland's Sunshine Coast saw over 150 Queensland SMEs attend an industry forum at the University of the Sunshine Coast, where the focus was on defence industry engagement with SMEs.

Businesses and workers in the Cairns region were also delivered some good news earlier this year in February when it was announced the Navy's Armidale Class Patrol Boats would be serviced in Cairns.

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